‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award for Colin Gray

August 10, 2017

Paul Todd of Green Flag with Colin Gray of FPS

There was a big surprise for Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), at the recent Elvetham Heath Countryside Day. He was presented with the Green Flag Volunteer of the Year Award by Paul Todd, Scheme Manager of the Green Flag Award (see above).

This award recognises the dedication shown by volunteers working alongside professionals in improving parks and green spaces across the UK. Apparently he won it by a mile! His leadership of the project to create the new Avondale Pond system in Brookly Wood (at Fleet Pond) was cited by Hart Countryside Services as being typical of the dedication Colin has shown. This is to balance out any unexpected overflows from the Thames Water pumping station.

Group photo featuring Green Flag, FPS and Hart Countryside Services

Colin was for once speechless when he was called forward to accept the award. However Paul Todd said “Colin is a shining example to all volunteers who are involved with creating and maintaining green spaces for the public, particularly those that qualify for a Green Flag Award.”

Fleet Pond nature reserve has yet again been awarded the Green Flag Award for 2017 along with the one at Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney Central Commons which has also has achieved green heritage accreditation for the first time. Colin did have something to say about this! “Hart Countryside Services deserve major congratulations on gaining Green Flags for these wonderful sites.”

You can read about Green Flag Awards here.

“The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.”


Moths, An Unusual Pet

June 22, 2017

The Elephant Hawk Moth (from Wikipedia)

Peter Martin, President of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“Most people would regard butterflies as beautiful creatures, but some have an aversion to moths, either because they dislike the fluttering around nearby light sources or due to the holes created in their clothing by clothes-moth caterpillars. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn that one of my favourite pets has been a moth caterpillar.

The Elephant Hawk Moth (see above) lays its ‘whitish-green’ eggs on Willow Herb in June and I was lucky enough to find one of the resulting fully-grown caterpillars crawling across the earth one August looking for somewhere to pupate. They normally do this just below the level of the soil and, to make sure that my caterpillar would not be affected by anything within a sample that I scooped up, I sterilised a small amount before putting it into a container with the caterpillar. As expected, it burrowed into the earth and, through the glass I could see when it had pupated.

If you look at an Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar (see below), you will probably think that it is one of the ugliest of creatures, although very aptly named. I had to wait patiently until the following June for the moth to emerge from the chrysalis, but what a beautiful sight was in store for me. The difference between the moth and the caterpillar was like “beauty and the beast”.

The Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar (from Wikipedia)

Having run a moth trap during some summer nights, I have had the opportunity to see that all moths are not as dowdy as some people would think.   Before letting them go, there is a chance to look at them closely and even the wings of the tiniest moths often have really beautiful colour patterns when seen through a magnifying glass or microscope.”

Ed. Related articles by Peter Martin that may also be of interest include:


FPS Photographic Competition Results for 2016

March 26, 2017

A poster of the winning photographs for the 2016 FPS competition

The results of the 2016 FPS Photographic Competition were announced at the FPS AGM held in February. The theme for 2016 (‘Seasons’) captured people’s imagination and there was an impressive number of entries.

Our judge, Kevin Whibley of ‘Captured Moment’ photographic studio in Fleet was extremely thorough in making his selection. He stated that: ‘ Just as every person who takes a photograph sees something different in a scene, every judge looks for something different in a photograph.’

As well as looking for photographs that reflected the ‘Seasons’ theme, Kevin was looking for sharp focus, well framed pictures with good composition, colour and atmosphere.

He projected all the photographs onto a big screen and narrowed the number down to 41. He then printed these and spread them out on a big table to make his final selection. You can read Kevin’s illuminating comment on each photograph here.

The winning photos from previous competitions can be viewed at the FPS web site (see under the Photography tab).

Also, see the FPS Flickr Group for additional inspiration and interest!

Here’s a larger version of the impressive winning image from Rachel Jones:

 

 


FPS Swans Glide Round The Course

March 24, 2017

James Wicks, Lauren Saxby, Dan Franklin and Immie Sutherland at the 2017 Fleet Half Marathon

We’re glad to announce that the four runners (see above) that took on the challenge of raising funds for Fleet Pond Society by participating in the 2017 Fleet Half Marathon successfully completed the course! Congratulations to them all as well as the many supporters that turned up on the day to cheer them on.

Two FPS swans, Immie and Lauren, gliding round the course (photo from Hampshire News)

You can read more about them and their motivation and preparation for the race here. There’s still time to contribute and all support is greatly appreciated.

The charity sites are:

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/danielfranklin

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/laurensaxby

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/imogensutherland1

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/jameswicks


FPS Volunteer of the Year 2016 – Michael Thompson

March 23, 2017

michael-t-and-counciller-parker-s

Michael Thompson (right) with Councillor Stephen Parker

Cathy Holden writes:

The Chairman’s Award was set up by Councillor Sharyn Wheale, during her time as Hart Council Chairman in 2009. The aim is to recognise the voluntary contribution made over the preceding year to Fleet Pond or to the Society. The Fleet Pond Society Executive Committee is set the task of choosing a deserving volunteer. The Society always tries to select someone whose work behind the scenes is not clearly visible or has not been fully recognised.

The choice for Volunteer of the Year 2016 is someone who has given the Society dedicated support for several years at both the monthly conservation management tasks and at the regular Friday tasks. He is known as the one man who can start a bonfire in all weathers to dispose of all the cut material from a work session. His dedication extends to staying with a fire until it has been safely extinguished while the other volunteers return tools and equipment to the workshop.

He has donated his annual leave time to help with big construction projects like the Lions View platform on the eastern side of the pond and the pond dipping platforms at The Flash pool and Hemelite Bay. This volunteer has led groups of visiting school and young peoples’ groups for educational visits, including pond dipping, bug hunting and natural world experiences.

Justly deserving recognition as the Volunteer of the Year is Michael Thompson.


How Popular Is The Pond?

March 10, 2017

footfall-figures-pond-2016

Graph of Footfall Figures at Fleet Pond for 2016 (Click To Enlarge)

Answer: A lot more than you might imagine!

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“Hart Rangers have provided me with the full year footfall figures for Fleet Pond as recorded at the six monitoring points (see legend on graph above plus map here).

They make interesting reading and there is one oddity and one that bucks the general trend. Most monitor points follow a similar trend over the year, but Coldstream Culvert shows an unusual drop in March, April and June. Boat House track bumbles along as one of the lowest until a sudden increase in September, drops in the next two months and then becomes one of the highest in December.

Picnic entrance is one of the two lowest all year, indicating perhaps that most walkers use the lower track?

What is very clear is the numbers of people using Fleet Pond every month. Back a decade when we had a Farnborough Sixth Form student take a survey over a shorter few months, his figures estimated approximately 4,000 to 5,000 a month in peak months. All but two monitor points show the numbers are now well in excess of that estimate every month.

An  important point to note is that the monitors record every movement past the monitor, so it includes those who walk, jog, run or walk dogs more than once a day or do more than one circuit of the pond. For example a jogger might pass the monitor three or more times in one day. Although these might swell the figures, they do have an impact on the path network, so it makes sense to include them when assessing impact on path maintenance and potential disturbance.

There is no denying just how popular and valuable Fleet Pond is to people and their health.”

You can read the interesting things that visitors say about taking walks around Fleet Pond via TripAdvisor here.


Running For The Pond – The Fleet Half Marathon

March 3, 2017

Video of Fleet Half Marathon 2016

Cathy Holden writes:

“Five runners, Shane England, Dan Franklin, Lauren Saxby, Immie Sutherland and James Wicks have signed up to raise funds for Fleet Pond Society (FPS) by completing the Fleet Half Marathon on our behalf. We are really grateful that they have!

This event takes place on Sunday 19th March 2017 (start 10:30 am), and attracts 3,500 runners. It is one of the longest-running half marathons in the UK, now in its 36th year. We were delighted that FPS was named local charity by the organisers for this year. You can read more about the half marathon here.

We hope that FPS members and others will support the great efforts of these fantastic five by sponsoring them and raising funds for FPS. If you go and watch, you will easily spot both Immie and James as they will be dressed as swans – just to add to the challenge!

These are our runners, in their own words:-

dan-franklin-2

Dan Franklin (above) writes: “In terms of training, I normally run about 4 miles daily throughout the year as part of a regular training regime. I’m stepping this up to occasional longer runs of around 7-9 miles throughout January and February, but scaling it back again to shorter runs in the weeks leading up to the half marathon. This will be the ninth consecutive time I’ve run the Fleet half, so hopefully I might achieve a personal best. I’m delighted to be running on behalf of Fleet Pond Society and hope to raise a decent sum.”

See: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/danielfranklin

Lauren Saxby writes: “I’m running the Fleet Half Marathon because I’ve lived in the town all my life, and the race has passed close to my house every year. It seems a part of Fleet life, like the Carnival. I’ve always enjoyed running, and decided to take on the half marathon challenge this year. Once I had made the decision, it was obvious to me that it was a chance to raise some money for FPS as the Pond is another big part of Fleet that I’ve enjoyed over those years. When I was younger, I volunteered at the Pond. Both my mum and brother have raised money through charity events for FPS, so it seemed a good incentive to encourage me to get out and run. I’m fairly active, riding horses mostly, and am aiming to get round my first half marathon and raise some funds for FPS.”

See: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/laurensaxby

immie-sutherland

Immie Sutherland (above) writes: “Fleet Pond has always been very special to me as a place to walk, play, run, bird-watch and volunteer over the years. I’m really excited to have this opportunity to run and fundraise for Fleet Pond Society and give something back to a place that is so valuable to Fleet and the surrounding area. This will be my third Fleet Half Marathon, but this year will be a little different because I’ll be running dressed as a swan. My training currently consists of sessions in a nicely warm gym, but as we move into February you’ll spot me running around Fleet and racing the Bramley 10 as a warm-up.”

See: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/imogensutherland1

james-wicks-s

James Wicks (above) writes: “This year I will be running the Fleet Half Marathon dressed as a swan! I am running to raise money for the Fleet Pond Society as it is a cause close to the hearts of my parents-in-law, Nick and Margaret Keeley. They live close to Fleet Pond and are regular walkers with their dog, Dylan. Nick is on the Society’s Committee and volunteers a lot of his time to the Fleet Pond Society. He has just stepped down as Treasurer after many years. I am now half way through my training which hasn’t been easy, particularly after the new arrival of our first child Erin who is just 15 weeks old. If you would like to sponsor me and help raise much needed funds for the Fleet Pond Society to continue its great work I would be ever so grateful!”

See: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/jameswicks

Shane England is the Society’s new Treasurer and writes: “I have just started the training for the run taking all the rest days last month. I have lived in Fleet for the past 20 years and currently am the Finance Manager at Old Thorns Golf Hotel and Country Estate in Liphook. Married for 35 years with no kids and at a tender age of 59 and a bit. I last ran any distance in the 2005 Fleet Half Marathon so this is going to be a shock to my system.”

Good luck to them all 🙂

We wish them all well on the day and hope that you will support this fantastic five by making a donation to their sites in aid of FPS. Just sponsor one of our runners and it will make a big difference. Members of the FPS Committee will be acting as Marshalls during the event as well as manning a stall at the finish line. Do pop along and see us if you’d like to find out more about the Society and what we do.”