Group delighted by transformation of Downham Market nature reserve

A nature reserve in Downham Market has been given a new lease of life thanks to the efforts of schoolchildren and a team of offenders.

A nature reserve in Downham Market has been given a new lease of life thanks to the efforts of schoolchildren and a team of offenders.

The Willows was seen as little more than a dumping ground just four years ago and The Friends of The Willows was created to revive it.

Despite a frustrating start, the small group is now feeling positive about the nature reserve's future with more families flocking to the area than ever before.

Andrew Davy, group treasurer, said: 'The efforts of the community payback team and children from Clackclose Primary School have been fantastic. The schoolchildren have planted something like 6,000 daffodil bulbs over the last three years and eventually we hope the reserve will be full of daffodils.

'Last year the payback team was brought in here and they have cleared the reeds, cleared lots of brambles and dug holes for bulbs to be planted. We are now in a fantastic position and we hope to continue to preserve it for everyone with the help of the public who must use it properly and treat it with respect.'

The community payback team, a joint initiative between the county's safer neighbourhood teams and probation, has been targeting run-down areas in Downham Market since August last year.

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The recent bulb-planting effort by the children from Clackclose Primary School earlier this month started the Downham in Bloom 2012 campaign.

Fellow group member Julie Davy continued: 'We have certainly seen a rise of people using it and have been getting good feedback from people like how much nicer it is down here.'

The group does, however, have concerns over any future development south of nearby Railway Road.

Mr Davy said: 'We have concerns about drainage from that development and we fear surface water could drain into the reed bed and destroy it.

'We just hope The Willows is taken into consideration when the final plans are approved so that the new families moving in can also make good use of this lovely area.'

The group is selling Christmas cards to raise cash for future projects. Anyone interested in purchasing a pack of cards can e-mail ajdavy@tiscali.co.uk

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