As winter approaches and autumn rains fall, visitors to Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve in St George will not need to pick their way across a muddy field this year.
Friends of Troopers Hill are celebrating the construction of a new path which will make access between the nature reserve and the nearby play area much easier for everyone and especially those with mobility issues.
The project was made possible thanks to a £25,000 grant from Enovert Community Trust and a further £15,000 from Ibstock Enovert Trust. Together with an allocation of Community Infrastructure Levy funding by local councillors, the grants paid for improvements to an access track as well as the new path; something that was welcomed by local resident and wheelchair user Lizzy Horn.
Lizzy said:, "The new path is amazing, it has made so much difference to how comfortable it is in my wheelchair, so smooooooth!!! and also it made it so much quieter. I could go along near my mum and hear her talking, but also, I could go along and still hear the birds the grit under my chair used to be very noisy, so that’s made a huge difference. I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all involved."
The construction of the path was the final part of the £120,000 ‘Ways to Nature’ project, which has also brought other improvements to Troopers Hill, including new fencing on Troopers Hill Road.
Rob Acton-Campbell from the Friends of Troopers Hill said: “We are delighted that the new path has now been completed and is allowing much easier access to this spectacular wildlife spot. During the autumn and winter months, heavy rainfall has always made accessing the Nature Reserve difficult, as the field and paths become very muddy.
The delays due to the wet weather in the early spring followed by Covid were frustrating but the end result has made the effort worthwhile. I remember last year seeing a couple struggling to get their children’s buggy through the mud, thankfully that will not happen this year.”
The path and the track together with other sections of path constructed in previous projects means that there is now a complete loop around Troopers Hill Field, which has created new opportunities for residents of all ages to exercise in their local green space.
Susan Acton-Campbell, Cchair of Friends of Troopers Hill commented:,
“We have been so pleased to see how the path has been used for more than improving access - children are skating and learning to ride their bikes. We have also seen people jogging and walking round the new circuit that has been created around the Field. The surface of the new path has also provided the opportunity for some creative chalking by local children.
"We would like to thank our local Councillors and both Enovert Community Trust and Ibstock Enovert Trust for the funding that allowed this project to happen."
Local Councillor Fabian Breckels (St George, Troopers Hill) championed the project when funding was first being discussed in 2018.
Cllr Breckels said: "Working with my fellow Councillors in St George I was pleased to be able to support this project by allocating funds through the Area Committee. The project is an excellent example of the Council working with local residents through a local group and using the limited funds available to the Council as seed money to attract additional funding. I have been pleased to see the new path being used by such a wide range of people."
The improvements at Troopers Hill are the latest in a number of projects that both Enovert Community Trust and Ibstock Enovert Trust have supported in the local area in recent years. The grants were provided through the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF), an innovative tax credit scheme that enables Landfill Operators to contribute money to a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites.
Angela Haymonds, Trust Secretary of both Enovert Community Trust and Ibstock Enovert Trust said: “The Trustees were delighted to provide a grant to fund the upgrades to the paths at Troopers Hill Nature Reserve. In particular, the improvements to the designated wheelchair access route will ensure that every member of the community has the opportunity to visit and enjoy this fantastic site.
"We were delighted to see this project has completed before the winter in what has been a difficult year. Enabling access to green space for everyone has always been a priority for the Trusts but is now more important than ever. ”
A small socially distanced ceremony to inaugurate the new path was held on Wednesday 28th October when Lizzy Horn unveiled plaques acknowledging the work of Friends of Troopers Hill and the contributions of the funders. Friends of Troopers Hill hope to organise a larger celebration event next year once the restrictions due to the pandemic are lifted.