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News - May 2014 - Better Access At Nature Reserve

A partnership of local organisations has provided a new all-ability access facility for Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.  Steps on the popular Meadow Trail have been replaced by a gently graded ‘zig zag’ ramp that allows easy ascent of the bank and access by wheeled mobility vehicles. 

The project, led by the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, has involved Huntingdonshire District Council Rangers, the Reserve’s mid-week volunteers and Peacock Engineering in construction, and four different contributors to the total cost of just over £12,000.

The Friends’ new chairman, Mike Thomas, said:

“We are very grateful for substantial contributions from three sources.  We received a donation in memory of Paul Townsend, provided by his family and organisations to which he had belonged.  Through their fundraising efforts, we are, in turn, indebted to St Neots Rugby Club, St Neots St Mary’s Rotary Club, Aragon Singers and Huntingdon Male Voice Choir.  The second donation came from The Strangward Trust, which specialises in assisting access improvements for those with mobility difficulties.  Central England Co-operative donated £2,000 at the opening event, money raised through sales of its 2014 Wildlife calendar.  The Friends was pleased to meet the remainder of the cost, funded largely from the proceeds of our book sales at the Visitors’ Centre.”

Senior Ranger Jim Stevenson added:

“The new facility has, at a stroke, created all-ability access to three different circular routes on the Reserve.  The previous steps had effectively been a ‘blocked path’ to many visitors, but thanks to this amazing partnership project many more people can enjoy more countryside and wildlife watching at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.”

HDC’s John Craig (far right) and Ranger Matt Hall (far left) celebrate the opening of the all-ability access ramp at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve with family and friends of Paul Townsend.  (Left to right) Paul Davies, Roger Pitt, Ian Gunn, David Cobham, Pat Townsend, Cliff Owen and Mike Truswell.
Anne Allured from The Strangward Trust and visitors from the Shortsands Day Centre open the all-ability access ramp at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve.

Friends of Paxton Pits volunteers (left to right) Marilyn Barlow, Mavis Battey and David Butterworth receiving the cheque for £2,000 from Eaton Socon Central England Co-operative food store manager Darren Hammond and community champion Katie Paton.

All photos by Ray Matthews