Gunton wood volunteers need you to log on and show support

SHORTLISTED: Barry Shimmield, centre, and his fellow volunteers at the Gunton Woodland Community Pro

SHORTLISTED: Barry Shimmield, centre, and his fellow volunteers at the Gunton Woodland Community Project are hoping to win a National Trust environmental award - and are hoping local people will vote for them. - Credit: Picture: Nick Butcher

Volunteers behind a community woodland project have been short-listed for a National Trust award and are calling on people to get behind them and vote when the competition opens on Monday.

The Gunton Woodland Community Project (GWCP), to the north of Lowestoft, is one of three projects to reach the final in the green space guardians category in the trust's Octavia Hill awards.

The project was nominated by Gunton resident Jacqueline Channing, who wrote: 'They have inspired and enthused the community to work, transform, support and appreciate the woodland and open spaces in north Lowestoft.

'The group is a strong, energetic voluntary organisation which has been successful in its achievements and has overcome many challenges.'

Mrs Channing is a member of the GWCP along with her husband Brian. She urged people to vote for the group to win the award.

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'If you enjoy walking in a peaceful, natural environment, away from the pressures of daily living then please vote for the GWCP,' she added.

The group was formed in 1998 by Barry Shimmield after he complained at the neglected state of Gunton Wood.

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Over the last 15 years, members have completed 1,200 working parties totalling 36,000 hours.

They have cleared the sycamores and brambles that had taken over the wood, planted up to 4,500 trees and shrubs, installed information boards and created a circular footpath.

The project has also expanded to include Foxburrow Wood and Gunton Meadow Nature Reserve.

In 2003, the project was presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. In 2004, Gunton Wood was officially declared a nature reserve.

The project currently has 170 members and every Thursday, 20 to 30 of them turn out to spend two hours maintaining the woodland.

David Briggs, chairman of GWCP, said: 'It is really nice to be nominated. It will make the membership feel all the jobs they are doing are worthwhile.'

Mr Briggs said volunteers had been working hard to reinstate the main footpath through the woods, clear ditches and repair rotten fences following the long winter.

He said the next job would be to split and replant the snowdrops to broaden their spread in the woods before work was scaled back during the wildlife breeding season.

'It is a lovely place to be and worth all the hard work,' said Mr Briggs. 'In May there will be a good show of bluebells in Foxburrow and Gunton woods and there will be primroses and various orchids through the summer.'

Voting is free and will open on Monday. Visit to vote.

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