"Special Projects" - Diversity Outdoors, Walkability, etc.

Reinstatement of Skokholm Bird Observatory

From time to time quite extraordinary projects are undertaken by dedicated and committed volunteer groups. In this instance, a few years ago the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer, which was founded in 1981, decided to set about raising enough funds to start with the renovation of Ronald Lockley’s cottage and outbuildings on the Island of Skokholm. Lockley took out a long lease on this island in 1927 and started studying and recording migratory birds in 1928, establishing the first British Bird Observatory in 1933. The second world war saw the island used by the military but following this, research and ringing of birds only continued until 1976. The funds required to undertake the renovations to the derelict buildings were enormous, not to mention the extraordinary number of volunteer man hours that would also be needed. Needless to say, the Friends were delighted to have been associated in a small way by making a very modest financial contribution towards the project and some of our members also helped with the work undertaken on their own initiative which finally culminated in the reinstatement of the Skokholm Bird Observatory in 2014.


“Diversity Outdoors”

Diversity Outdoors was born out of another project called Mosaic which was pioneered by the Campaign for National Parks. This project recruited ‘Community Champions’ who were volunteers who have a growing passion for Wales’ National Parks and stunning countryside and who would like to get to know it better and share that passion with others. With regard to Diversity Outdoor, these Community Champions come primarily from Cardiff, Swansea and the South East of Wales and now provide people from such ethnic minority communities with the opportunity to take part in a range of activities, training and visits outside of the cities, and particularly in the Welsh National Parks, in order for them to:
– experience and understand the Welsh landscape, it’s history, culture and environments and biodiversity
– promote this understanding and the need to protect the unique landscapes of Wales
– promote and improve health and well-being through exercise in the natural environment
– learn about environmental vulnerability and sustainability
– broaden understanding of sustainable living ideas and actions
– devise ways to apply that knowledge in their own communities, on issues like waste, food, energy, water, transport and leisure, helping to reduce the carbon footprint in Wales
– devise and organise activities which assist inter-generational cohesion
– share new experiences and build networks with other Welsh communities, including Welsh speakers
– engage in cultural exchanges and promote mutual understanding with rural and “urban fringe” communities
– gain in confidence in accessing Welsh National Parks and the natural environment
– exchange with other similar groups in the UK
– establish contact with other similar groups in Europe, and worldwide, particularly other “countries of origin”

To provide a point of contact to assist Diversity Outdoors with their visits to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the Friends have recently appointed a Liaison officer to help these “Community Champions” in the organisation of ‘Field Trips’ within the National Park. Our Liaison officer, Ian Pattinson, can be contacted using the details on our Contact Us form.


The Walkability Project

During the period July 2013 to June 2014, the ‘Friends’ was successful in bidding for a grant of £4,900 from the Hywel Dda Charitable Trust in order to help support the ‘Walkability’ project being administered by the National Park Authority. Since the NPA were unable to access these funds direct, in effect the Friends helped by sub-contracting the NPA to deliver part of the overall project.

The project started in 2011 and provides tailored walks for local people with health or disability issues, enabling them to explore the National Park and to gain health and social benefits from participation. Users include cardiac rehabilitation exercise referral patients, mental health day care patients and ex-patients, palliative care and disabled groups who depend on electric mobility scooters, Army family welfare teams’ clients, local community (general), cycle mobility for those with special physical and learning needs and pupils with special needs.

An Executive member of the Friends liaised with and served on the Walkability Co-ordinating Committee during the funded period (which has now finished) and has been asked to continue to provide further input in the future. Of course the Friends are willing to continue with help and support for similar projects if the opportunities materialise and we feel able to do so. If you are interested in this project, please contact our Chairman, Steve Drinkwater, by using the details on our Contact Us form.


Restoration and Maintenance of the Pump House at St. Brides

This pump house, containing a very interesting and rare Tangye pump engine, is located close to St. Bride’s Church and owned by the National Park Authority. In 2000, the Friends expressed an interest in renovating the pump house and restoring the pump with the agreement of the NPA. The Friends first work party and Staff of the National Park assembled on 7 March that year and commenced work. The pump house is still maintained by the Friends and the Tangye engine has been restored to working order with demonstrations of the pump periodically organised in the summer by a member of the Friends. To see further detailed information about this project and details of demonstrations please click here.