The Opening Of The Lions’ View

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Julian Behmber (President of Fleet Lions) about to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, together with Colin Gray (Chairman of FPS)

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The viewing platform prior to the ribbon cutting

Cathy Holden writes:

The new Lions’ View platform on the eastern side of Fleet Pond recognises the 118 year association of the military with Fleet Pond.

This fabulous project was funded by Fleet Lions to the tune of £12,000, designed and produced by Phill Gower and his team at Cove Industries, and built by a large team of Fleet Pond Society (FPS) volunteers.

The platform is accessible to everyone with plenty of room for buggies, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Visitors can now enjoy a view across the Pond from an area that was not previously accessible.

Fleet Lions generously donated £12,000 towards the project, the largest single donation that the club has ever made and the largest single donation that Fleet Pond Society has ever received.

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The formal revealing of the Lions’ View board

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Sorting out the positioning of the Lions’ View entrance board in the construction phase (see here)

At the recent opening ceremony on the 18 April, Julian Behmber, current President of Fleet Lions said: ‘The Fleet Lions saw this project as a perfect way to give something tangible back to the local community who have been unstintingly generous to us in our various fundraising efforts over the years.’

Brian Proctor was President in the year the Lions agreed to fund the Pond Society’s viewpoint project. Mr Proctor commented: ‘We saw all the amazing things that were going on to help restore the Pond. Fleet Lions are a major voluntary group in the local community and we felt we needed to do our bit too. We asked what was on the Pond Society’s wish list that they didn’t have funding for. A new viewpoint was the reply!’

Mike Collen, who organises groups of Lions to help on conservation tasks at the Pond added: ‘We love to be involved in making the Pond a better place for people and wildlife. What a great pleasure it was for us to hear that the new platform would be named “Lions’ View”.’

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A picture of the original jetty, dated 1904

The viewpoint has been built on the old embankment laid down by the army in the 19th century as a base for a very large jetty which stretched out into the Pond to launch boat-based training exercises.

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The military have a long connection with Fleet Pond (above and below) – see here

army under canvas at pond small

FPS Chairman, Colin Gray said ‘I was thrilled when Fleet Lions agreed to award funding for this project to the Society as this viewpoint has been an idea of mine for many years, something my committee colleagues have shared with me. We think it is important to recognise the historical significance of the 118 years ownership of this site by the military. By these efforts we have opened up a different viewpoint of the Pond, as well as putting a large stable platform for the enjoyment of all members of the community.’

Terry Austin, FPS Vice Chairman, managed the project from start to finish: ‘This was very much a team effort. My job was not difficult as the Society is incredibly lucky to have a band of volunteers who work together as an effective team to perform wonders around the Reserve, as this project shows.’

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From an idea, to a plan, to a structure (above) and finally to a wonderful new viewpoint, accessible to all

Phill Gower, MD of Cove Industries, the company that undertook the design and fabrication work for the metalwork structure, said: ‘Tt is always satisfying to see a project progress from the concept design on the computer screen right through to the finished installation. It’s even more pleasing that the finished viewpoint is something the team can have pride in, and adds back community benefit to visitors at the Pond.’

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Appreciating the scene from the Lions’ View

Fleet Lions recently celebrated their 40th birthday together with the other six Clubs they have formed locally. They raise funds and entertain the public with Fleet’s major fireworks display, the August beer festival, the May Day motorcycle rally and the Christmas Santa float which enthrals local youngsters. They’re always looking for new people to be members or just help out with the odd few hours, please see their website for further details.

For information on Fleet Pond Society, please see the articles on this blog as well as those on the FPS websiteTwitter and Facebook. If you are interested in joining the Society, please see the Joining FPS tab above.

Picture credits for the historical photos – please see here.

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