Claire Perry MP opens the new Wetland Area at Stonebridge Meadow - in kingcup sunshine
It was once a water meadow, then a market garden and then 'just a mess', now the fifteen acres of Stonebridge Meadow on the south bank of the River Kennet which was bought jointly by Marlborough Town Council and Action for the River Kennet (ARK) has its very own wetland area.
It was declared open on Friday (May 6) by Claire Perry MP - with the official party representing ARK and the Town Council standing with her safely on the pond dipping platform at the end of the boardwalk.
ARK Chairman Geoffrey Findlay thanked Mrs Perry for bringing the sunshine - and for agreeing to open the wetland area. He described the Stonebridge Meadow and wetland projects as a partnership between the private/charitable sector and local and central government - and delighted Mrs Perry by referring to it as a Big Society success.
He made special mention of the thousands of hours of volunteer work - without which neither organisation could have afforded to undertake the project. And he thanked the many benefactors - some of them anonymous - who had helped raise the money to buy the land and design the wetland.
Mr Findlay said the main aims of the Stonebridge project were to improve the river and its wildlife and increase public access and public understanding of the river. And he made special mention of the outreach work that was so successfully involving the younger generation - quoting the work done by cubs, beavers and scouts.
This was one of the last official functions for Town Mayor Councillor Margaret Rose whose year in office ends on Monday (May 9.) She praised ARK's perseverance in buying the land and she admitted that both sides - ARK and Town Council - had had to make compromises with their ideals: "But this day belongs to ARK."
Mrs Perry said the most positive part of the project was that the area had been protected for future generations. And, after a countdown, she cut the ribbon. She said the ribbon matched her outfit, but from a little distance it looked suspiciously like a watery shade of blue!
ARK's Project Officer and Volunteer Coordinator, Anna Forbes, received a round of applause for all the work she has done on the project and on the events that take place there - such as the Moth Nights and bird ringing.
Anna and local naturalist and author Peter Marren were ready to take visitors on a tour of the whole area. First stop would be the amazingly bold and bright clumps of Marsh Marigold - known to some as Kingcups.
These Peter Marren explained were one of the most primitive of flowers - in form very like pine cones that had opened out. Next stop would probably be the tiny tadpoles already wiggling their way around the water's edge.
It is very difficult to believe this wetland - so close to the town centre - was created from a muddy patch only a year ago. Such was the underlying mess of clay that during the heavy-lifting part of the work, one of the contractors' diggers got stuck in the mud. Now the only thing aiming to get its feet into the mud is the visiting heron.
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