Norsey Wood is enjoyed by residents, young and old and near and far
Andrew has nominated volunteers of the Norsey Wood Society for this year's Basildon Borough Volunteer Awards
Everyone and anyone who has been to Norsey Wood will know that it is a magical place. For me, the Wood is steeped in memory and meaning. I spent many hours exploring it as a child with my two younger brothers, usually at the instigation of my late grandmother, who also loved it and treated going to see the bluebells almost like a holy pilgrimage. We walked our dogs through it and tried to spot Muntjac deer. The magic and wonder of Norsey Wood is something that never leaves you and it is a place I revisit as often as I am able.
One of the things that makes Norsey Wood such a pleasant place to visit is the joint custodianship of Basildon Borough Council and the Norsey Wood Society.
The Society was formed in 1977, following the purchase of the Wood by the then Basildon District Council. This was as a result of an active campaign in Billericay to protect the Wood, which had been threatened with felling to allow housing development. The Society is a community group that works closely with the Council to support the management of the ancient woodland, which is now designated as both a Local Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It also happens to be in my Billericay East ward, so I have had the great honour and good fortune of 'representing' the Wood since 2013. I should also declare an interest, in that I have been, for some years now, a paid up ordinary member of the Norsey Wood Society and, since last year, have served as one of the two Basildon Council representatives to the Society (along with my friend and colleague Cllr. Tony Hedley).
While the stewardship of the Wood primarily lies with the Council, the contribution of the Society and the impact it has had on the conservation of the Wood can hardly been understated. The Society has been vital in both the management and improvement of habitat for wildlife within the woodland and has helped sustained and improve its ecology. The Society's band of volunteers have also worked tirelessly to enhance the amenities in the Wood, to encourage increased awareness, raise visitor numbers, and improve accessibility and participation for all those who come to enjoy this beautiful place in our town.
Over the past few years, the Society has greatly assisted the Council in the realisation of a number of important initiatives at the Wood, by applying for grant funding help pay for improvements, including the Easy Access Trail, cycle racks, picnic tables and much more. Most recently, they helped secure funding from the Co-Op for the new map boards, which have been installed at each of the main pedestrian entrances by their volunteer Working Party, increasing public awareness and enhancing the visitor experience for those exploring the Wood. The weekly Working Party, in particular, are invaluable and are tireless in undertaking projects to improve biodiversity within the Wood and boost local understanding of natural history.
The Society have played a pivotal role in raising awareness of Norsey Wood, not just as a place for recreation but as a Nature Reserve, educating visitors about the wildlife living in this glorious community asset and providing advice on the importance of avoiding disturbance of the wildlife habitats and the health and wellbeing of the creatures that inhabit it.
Norsey Wood is a jewel in the crown for the community I represent and, irrespective of whether or not they win the award for which I have nominated them, for all the hard (and largely unsung) work that the Norsey Wood Society do, I say a heartfelt "Thank You".
The Awards will be taking place on Thursday, March 10th, 2022.