Watercress 50 - June 2000


Good turn out for 2000 AGM

This years AGM saw an increased turn out, with over 40 people attending on the Sunday morning, but the non-appearance of the main speaker!


Annual review

John Hyde, WWA Chair, reported that the WWA continues in good heart, and stated his belief that the site's existence enhances the neighbourhood and strengthens the community.

He paid tribute to the work of David Curry, who in his capacity as Keeper of Natural Sciences for the city, has been a great support to the WWA since its inception. He is now moving to a new job, and our thanks and best wishes go with him.


Sussi Russo

The saddest event of the year was the death of "Sussi" Russo. She was a great friend of the WWA and is greatly missed.


Highlights

Highlights of the year were the orchard transformation, improvements to the entrance area and by the bench at the water's edge. The replacement of old trees has meant some bare patches have appeared, but these will soon recover. Bird movement and sound has increased thanks to the faithful feeding routines carried out by members.

The Association keeps a constant watch on the health of the River Ver, and has joined forces with the Ver Valley Association in attempting to ward off damaging development to the river.

The WWA also took part in the St Albans Apple Day, selling site products of jam and honey, and giving away apples.


St Albans in Bloom

A notable event was the winning of first place in the environmental category of the St Albans in Bloom competition for 1999.


The Mayor

In welcoming the Mayor and Mayoress, Cllr and Mrs Michael Morrell, the WWA continued the long established custom of St Albans Mayors speaking at the AGM. Cllr Morrell congratulated the WWA for all its hard work in restoring a part of St Albans which may otherwise have been swallowed up by buildings of one kind or another. He said that as far as the Council is concerned the site is an investment and a haven of peace.


Millenium money

The WWA has been awarded a grant of 1,458 under the Millenium Festival Awards for All programme.

The lottery grant will enable the WWA to improve the entrance pathway to the site, providing better access for the disabled, as well as enhancing the appearance of the path. It should also address the problems of water erosion, that have left the track rutted and channelled.

The existing track has been dug out and levelled. Work is now underway to lay plastic "matting" into the surface of the roadway, which is then filled and covered with earth and seeded with grass.

The final effect will be to provide a surface strong enough to take occasional vehicles, which will provide a much more pleasant grass surface, but which will also be flat enough for people to walk safely down to the site.


Environmental Market

The 2000 St Albans Environmental Market is being held on Sunday, 9th July. The WWA will have a stand which will be advertising the site and our activities, and hopefully generating some fun as well


Watercress site report

This year's site report to the AGM was once again given by Monica Anderson, WWA Land Manager, and a tireless worker on the site throughout the year.


Consolidation

With many huge projects behind us, and more planned for 2000, 1999 was a quiet year - a year for consolidation of our gains.


Achievements

We did still have some notable achievements; among them being the completion of the Mediaeval area outside the main gate, and extensive planting and seeding all over the sie.

This may not be obvious - 200 Bluebells or 100 Snowdrops tend to disappear in a four and a half acre site! However, it did win the Association the St. Albans in Bloom award.


Tactful work

A lot of tactful work has gone on in the Orchard area; the old trees have been rehabilitated and pruned, and the Willows pollarded.

Much work has gone on in the rough grass area in an attempt to introduce tough, colourful perennials which will compete with the grass and add interest, while not affecting the vital little ecosystem there for our uncommon reptiles.

Landscaping and tree planting has been done at the Mere.


Wildlife firsts

Really good news on the wildlife front.

Goldcrests have made a first appearance on the site, and in fact everywhere has been chock-full of small birds and waterfowl. This is thanks to Howard and Sheila, who have fed them regularly without fail.


Vole and Muntjac

Two recent sightings give us real pleasure. The Water Vole has reappeared, and we have not seen any of these endangered little animals since the site dried up.

We also have a regular little Muntjac deer, a female, who has been seen in the vicinity of the Orchard and Rough Grass Meadows on many occasions recently - even in broad daylight, and with a male accompanying her at one time.

Not bad, I think you'll agree, for a wildlife reserve only five minutes from the town centre.


Thanks

Thanks are due to all those people who make these things happen.

To the good old regulars who turn up weekend after weekend; to the unsung Committee members who do all the paperwork in the thankless support role; to the people who are always there when a specialist task needs doing; and to all those members who give the moral and monetary support to keep the area thriving.



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