New Norfolk conservation trust aims to repeat “winning formula” after completing its second project

Felbeck Trust founders Helen Dawson and Trevor Williams at a seating area created as part of a proje

Felbeck Trust founders Helen Dawson and Trevor Williams at a seating area created as part of a project to restore and re-connect Sustead common. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A conservation charity launched a year ago by two ex-prison governors to take on and manage small pockets of environmentally important land has almost completed its second project, and now hopes to repeat its 'winning formula' at similar sites all over the county.

Felbeck Trust founder Helen Dawson at the roadside entrance to Sustead common. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Felbeck Trust founder Helen Dawson at the roadside entrance to Sustead common. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

The Felbeck Trust, which was the idea of Trevor Williams and Helen Dawson, was set up with help from a team of volunteers and support from the Norfolk Rivers Trust, the North Norfolk Workout Group, Norwich Men's Shed and North East Norfolk Bird Club.

Its first project, to restore and manage a five-acre patch of land at Mallett's Meadows in Aylmerton, near Cromer, was completed earlier this year and its second, to restore and re-connect Sustead Common - which was split into three after being sold off in the 1970s - is in its final stages.

Natural fencing created on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Natural fencing created on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

The six-acre site, which is host to flora and fauna including more than 100 flowering plants, 50 species of bird and eight species of bat, has been cleared of overgrown brambles, with volunteers putting in around 500 hours to create paths, build natural fences, restore flower meadows and hedgerows, and install gates, bat boxes, seating and a bridge over a spring-fed chalk stream feeding into the River Bure.

Lifelong wildlife enthusiast Mr Williams, who was governor at prisons in London and Cambridgeshire before retiring in 2014 as operations director for the National Offender Management Service, said that rather than compete with large conservation organisations, the trust aimed to 'fill the gaps'.

Bat boxes installed at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Bat boxes installed at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant


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'What we want to do is to look after these pocket reserves that form sanctuaries for wildlife,' he explained. 'We are focused on restoring habitat, but also on improving public access so that people can feel a sense of ownership.'

The Sustead project, which was funded by a £3,500 North Norfolk District Council Big Society Fund grant, has now been designated a Roadside Nature Reserve.

A pathway created at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

A pathway created at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

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It will continue to be managed by the trust, which is working on similar projects at Melton Constable and Thornage, near Holt.

Mr Williams said: 'I think we have shown that this formula works and what we would like to do now is to get other people to think about what is possible and get on and do it.' For more information, visit www.felbecktrust.org.uk

Felbeck Trust volunteers working on a project to re-connect Sustead common. Photo: BARBARA GARDNER

Felbeck Trust volunteers working on a project to re-connect Sustead common. Photo: BARBARA GARDNER - Credit: Archant

A pathway created at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

A pathway created at Sustead common by Felbeck Trust volunteers. Photo: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A wild orchid growing on Sustead common. Photo: TREVOR WILLIAMS

A wild orchid growing on Sustead common. Photo: TREVOR WILLIAMS - Credit: Archant

A dragonfly photographed on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust co-founder Trevor Williams.

A dragonfly photographed on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust co-founder Trevor Williams. - Credit: Archant

Butterfly photographed on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust co-founder Trevor Williams.

Butterfly photographed on Sustead common by Felbeck Trust co-founder Trevor Williams. - Credit: Archant

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