Volunteers have been praised for their dedication after a watermill and nature reserve has won a national award.
Stotfold Watermill and Nature Reserve has won the Green Flag Award, in a scheme which recognises the quality of parks and green spaces.
The community site is one of 1,582 green areas in the UK to have met the high standard needed to receive the accolade.
Stotfold Watermill and Nature Reserve has won this prestigious national award, recognising excellence in management of green spaces, for the 3rd year running.
Paul Redwood, chair of the nature reserve management team, said: “I am delighted that once again we have achieved this award. This is down to the fantastic work that Teasel Conservation Volunteers do to ensure the reserve is continuously improving every year.”
He added: “We are also very grateful for the support from Stotfold Town Council, the Mill Trust, Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity and Central Bedfordshire Council in helping us to continue the work.”
Stotfold Watermill Nature Reserve is particularly impressive since, only ten years ago, it was three muddy fields, full of arable weeds. Through the hard work of Teasel volunteers, the area has been transformed with copses of native trees, and hedging and a wildflower meadow, as well as ponds and scrapes of various depths to attract wildlife.
The small osier bed is used for hedging by Teasel and also by master basketweaver, Sandra Barker, who lives locally.
The reserve is bounded by the River Ivel and the long-distance Kingfisher Way footpath runs along the far edge.
Local people value this additional green space immensely, as shown by the increasing number of visitors. The Annual Haymaking Day, to be held on Saturday, September 26 this year, has become a very popular local event, especially enjoyed by children.
Wildlife attracted to the area inlcudes kingfishers herons, mallards, coots, moorhens, buzzards and red kites. A family of swans nests every year and dragonflies and damselflies abound in sunny weather, with many species of butterflies and bees enjoying the variety of wild flowers.
Many of the native trees provide not just pollen and nectar for insects, but fruit and berries for birds in the autumn and winter.
Stotfold Watermill is open all year and only closed for the two major mill fundraising events in May and October.
Special tours of the reserve and the mill can be arranged. The Grade II-listed working Watermill is open on Sundays from March to October and for group visits, including schools at other times. For more details of the dates and other events at the mill and nature reserve, visit www.stotfoldmill.com