News for Trust volunteers from Hilary McGrady, via Vimeo

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Dear All

You will have seen Dot’s recent email on the annual hours computations – well done to all, particularly Leela who scoops the prize. For those that met her at Attingham early last year you may recall that she said she was unlikely to be able to come very often; I think this only goes to highlight the star quality of the SSNTV and its “pulling power”.

I very much doubt we will get anywhere near the circa 3,500 hours for the current year (2020/21), even in this our Fortieth Anniversary, but I know that we are all itching to get back in the great outdoors.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the work day leaders; as you will have seen we had 64 workdays and hence 64 workdays to lead. There were 10 leaders through the year and Top of the Pops was Peter Orme (12), Russell Blake and David Maeer  both leading 9 apiece and Dave Bennett leading 8. These four leading circa 60 %  of the workdays will receive a chairman’s prize. We always welcome new workday leaders, so please bear this in mind and get in touch if you’re interested and would like to know more. Please note you don’t have to be able to make a cake but with  all this time at home, and if you have the flour, there is time to practice!

Whilst we have changed the year ending for hours recording, to accord with the National Trust’s year end of February, it remains the aim to present prizes at the AGM; this is scheduled for September.   I appreciate that this may appear a simple, yet cunning device, to keep you interested and make sure you come along.

I hope you all remain healthy and happy; I look forward to the day when we can see each other and make a start on the undoubted backlog of work !

Best wishes.

Chris

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Royal News!

Dear SSNTV,
As you may well have read and heard the NT has closed all of its properties to visitors and volunteers due to coronavirus; as a result, all of the SSNTV proposed workdays are, sadly, cancelled until the NT reopens its gates.

The committee is preparing a new work programme which envisages a possible re-start date of June 2020.  While there is no certainty that we will be able to get out again then we can hope, and are at least prepared.

We continue to hope and plan too, for our SSNTV 40th birthday preparations with a proposed gathering at Wightwick on 4 July and the bonfire party/open workday on 6 – 8 November at Dudmaston but again, these are provisional given the current uncertainties.

I know that we all appreciate the effort that goes into making these events happen; we will continue to prepare for a return to normal Sunday service as soon as we can, so please don’t get any other ideas for your time!

Some of you will have seen the NT press release stressing the gratitude for the work of volunteers and looking forward to welcoming us back. For those that have not seen it an extract follows below:

The volunteering contributions of NTV groups are enormously valued – by the Trust as a whole, and particularly by the individual properties where you volunteer. Robert Rhodes, Head of Countryside Management and Rangers, said of our volunteer groups  ‘I am always humbled by the time, support and love people are prepared to give to the organisation I work for. It is extraordinary that in these crazy times people still want to volunteer to help – amazing commitment and a real show of how important we are to people.’

I know these are very strange times especially when the  weather is so glorious.

I know too that I look forward to seeing you all, once we are allowed out.  Please give me a call if you wish to have a word in the interim.

Best wishes,
Chris B

HEADLINE: SSNTV fights Corona virus – far from the madding crowd in deepest Shropshire – with plenty of fresh air, exercise and social distancing

This Spring the weather didn’t prevent the Group from reaching the ancient oaks in the woodland between Craven Arms and Bishops Castle – unlike the recent snow and high winds, nor did the dreaded lurgy.

Area Countryside Manager Pete C also ventured out to thank all those attending for their efforts…and I think overall, he was very impressed with what we achieved over two days – almost as much as the praise he lavished on Leela’s victoria sponge treat at cake o’clock!

Spring’s mild temperatures this year meant that already between the bracken and brambles we spotted green shoots and early bluebells – testament to the cumulative efforts to restore the woodland pasture over a number of repeat visits and increase the light to the ground storey.

Coppicing was in full swing, clearing dead and damaged trees, slashing brambles…there was plenty to keep everyone busy across two full days – even Ian; and enough boughs too for John to saw! The forecast rain came overnight – which didn’t hinder even those who made it to the local hostellery in Clun.  The pheasants were out; so too the beef herd – who definitely have a penchant for silver-coloured cars and their polish; and it was the usual challenge to navigate the monstrous potholes to make it up to the farm; oh yes, and no one got stuck in the muddy ground.

For those who lingered on Sunday, Day Two ended with shafts of sunlight shining through the newly created gaps between the trees.  A reminder of why we all sit in our cars for ages to find these secluded spots and see the fruits our labours…..

…..and then there is that cake!

Workday leader Helen reports:

12 volunteers made it all the way to Attingham Park on Sunday to work with the gardeners Duncan and Rob. Funnily enough however, we worked in the woods rather than the gardens.

The fence line is being moved back into the woods at the edge of the cattle field, in order to improve the views within the Estate’s original design. Unfortunately this meant leaving a lovely stretch of snowdrops to the unwanted attentions of the grazing cattle ( moo-yum!!).

SSNTV to the rescue!

We lifted the snowdrops, popped them in wheelbarrows and transported them across a muddy ditch to safety on the other side. Here they were dug into a lovely new position further into the wood for all to enjoy.

Alongside this 3 steadfast SSNTVer’s rebuilt a hurdle screen by the bird hide so the birds are not scared away by the passing visitors. Gaps were left for little and large visitors to observe the birds.

Lastly for good measure, we then did what we do best – cutting back! A rather large laurel bush is now just stumps and ready to start sprouting again in the spring. We enjoyed a relaxing cake o’clock and lunch in the comfort of the Gardeners Bothy within the Walled Garden, with flapjacks to round things off. All in all another tiring, but satisfying SSNTV outing!