This article was featured in our 2019 Spring Summer Newsletter – read the full newsletter here.
Life is a Ditch
Hi, a little about me; I’m Kim, 61 years old and this is how I found MWHG and how it has helped me through a traumatic time.
For 7½ years, along with my husband Mick, I travelled France, Spain, Scotland and all over England in our large motorhome. We did this full time as we sold the family home. During our travels we had come across lots of different sites of nature in the countryside of Europe and the UK. We are very avid walkers and love wildlife, flora, fauna and take an interest in the environment.
We sold the motorhome last June 2018 and moved permanently to West Wittering in July. We were keen to meet new friends and explore the area. It was on one of our walks that we came across a leaflet at The Wad, regarding volunteering for MWHG. After discussing it I emailed Jane Reeve who emailed back with details of the next group working at Itchenor Pond in Dec 18 / Jan 19. We went along in the afternoon and met Christopher Drake and the team of volunteers. He chatted to us about the work and introduced us to the members. This really whetted our appetite and we decided we wanted to join this wonderful worthwhile group, which we did in January 2019.
The work is very varied and can be quite hard at times, but we get a lovely “green workout” – no need for the gym! The work involves digging, planting wetland plants, clearing invasive weeds, planting trees, scattering wildflower seeds and grasses, and of course watering where we can. We work every Wednesday, 9.30am – 3.00pm and some Thursdays and Saturdays. I don’t do a Friday as I have counselling on that morning due to reasons I will explain later. We have done ditch surveys with Christopher which is so interesting and made us realise how important surveying these ditches are. We take our grandchildren out on walks when we have them and always take bags and litter pickers with us (supplied by Jane). The two young ones, Elsie aged 8, and Matilda aged 3, are so excited about this and always ask to go litter picking. They are like little sponges and are so eager to learn about nature and saving the planet. They have both made posters for Jane about littering, plastic and how it is damaging the planet.
Just recently while visiting Triangle Pond, Birdham, to see how the planting was coming along, we met a gentleman walking his dog. He stopped us to chat about the wonderful job the volunteers (along with Jane and Christopher) had done and I was proud to say I was part pf the group.
During a recent visit to Chichester Canal we were lucky enough to see three water voles and as we know they are in decline we were absolutely thrilled, and I managed to get a clear video recording of one swimming across the canal. We have recently had a wonderful day out with the group to Binsted Woods surveying dormouse and the day was perfect with very knowledgeable wonderful people.
We are always provided with tea, coffee and cakes and they get special cakes for me as I am gluten free. Everything is provided; gloves, tools etc. I would highly recommend volunteering for this wonderful group.
I have suffered from depression (counselling on Fridays) due to childhood abuse by my adoptive father as a young child and young adult. After he died in October 2017 I went to pieces and finally told my doctor who referred me to PARCS for counselling. Joining the MWHG had “saved” me so I can put everything into the work, which keeps me focused and stops me thinking of what has happened to me.
Thank you for sharing this personal experience, Kim. It is proof in action that involvement with nature can help mental as well as physical health. The Editor [MWHG Newsletter]