WILDLIFE WONDERLAND WILL ALSO BE A GIFT FOR EVESHAM YOUTH
Worcestershire and Warwickshire VIPs enjoyed a sneak preview of Avon Navigation Trust’s exciting plans in the pipeline, including an Evesham Lock Island initiative that will gift a big opportunity to local young people.
The long-term vision is to transform the island and the iconic triangular former lock-keeper’s house into the charity’s (ANT) second wildlife haven and a new riverside youth activity centre for the town.
Key members of local authorities, organisations and MPs were invited to the special presentation on ANT’s river pontoon at Stratford-upon-Avon to hear about the small charity’s big work to date and trailblazers to come.
Directors of the Trust detailed the success of the recent projects, including the first of its wildlife wonderlands at Pershore Lock Island.
ANT Chairman Jack Hegarty also unveiled plans for the launch of Project Neptune, which will also boost youth engagement up and down the Avon corridor.
Guests were treated to a trip on board ANT’s Eric the tugboat to enjoy the town’s river festival and to get up close to Dutch barge Neptune, which has been renovated with the support of Evesham Marina.
The historic vessel will be fitted out overwinter for its big 2020 launch as a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) training centre and mobile youth engagement hub, in partnership with Bonkers Activities, experts in Stand Up Paddleboarding and paddlesport provision on the river.
“In addition, Neptune will be the home of the ANT Squad of young volunteers, spearheading our initiative to future proof the Avon by encouraging young people on board to become our boaters and volunteers of the future,” explains Chief Executive Clive Matthews.
Evesham Lock Island’s condemned building can no longer be used as a dwelling because of access in the event of flooding.
ANT aims to submit plans to replace it with a similar strikingly shaped building for use as a fair-weather youth hub, with training facilities.
“Evesham will get a riverside youth activity centre on an island that will be transformed into a wildlife haven, also enabling young people to get involved in nature conservation.
“Protecting and encouraging wildlife is part of our ongoing drive as custodians of the river,” says Clive, who has added Consultant Ecologist Dr Fiona Sharpe MCIEEM to his expert team.
“As a life-long resident of Evesham, I think the project for the island and the iconic lock house would be a great asset to the area and one which I am really excited about. I am really pleased that the project has been identified during my year as Chairman of Wychavon,” adds Wychavon Chair, Councillor Frances Smith.
Plans will be drawn up to be shared with the public and for application for planning permission.
The charity continues to be busy applying for grants and creating fundraising initiatives to fuel its work and enhancement plans.
“We also rely heavily on the support of our local authorities, organisations and businesses and this first major VIP event was our way of saying thank you and to showcase our future projects,” added Chairman Jack Hegarty.
Welcome to our Avon’s future: ANT Chairman Jack Hegarty is pictured third from right with some of the VIP guests (from left) Evesham Marina boss and Project Neptune supporter Steve Smith and partner Fran, Stratford Town Trust Chief Executive Sara Aspley, Stratford District Council Chairman Councillor Christopher Kettle, Worcestershire County Council Chairman Peter Tomlinson, Stratford Mayor Councillor Kate Rolfe, her husband Mike Rolfe and ANT External Funding Director Penny Clover.
NT Chairman Jack Hegarty is pictured (first left) with some of the VIP guests (from left): Stratford District Councillor John Feilding, Stratford Town Trust Trustee Lindsay MacDonald, ANT External Funding Director Penny Clover, Wychavon District Council Chair Frances Smith, Warwickshire County Council Chair Councillor Nicola Davies and Worcestershire County Councillor John Smith.