Saturday morning brought an unexpected ray of sunshine, and I'm not just talking about the yellow ball in the sky that made an appearance after a week of very wet weather!
It came in the form of a big yellow fork-lift truck rumbling past the bottom of my garden heading up the lane immediately opposite the old mental hospital. Thirty minutes later it came back with a load of old HERA fencing panels - many with bits of gorse and grass hanging off. I was so surprised I ran indoors to get my phone to take some photos.
So why all the fuss? About 3 weeks ago I dropped into the Robertson offices at Fairways to see if I could find out who to talk to about running some small woodland partnership projects. Following a year of getting the administrative side of things in better shape, the directors are keen to get stuck in and make a difference where it matters - in the woods.
I met Jim Smith, who was interested to hear what I had to say and we agreed that a closer partnership between the woodland group, residents and Robertson's would be mutually beneficial. We exchanged details and agreed to keep in contact. Two week's later, following some email exchanges with Margaret Davidson (Leader of Highland Council), I was invited to a site walk-around with Brian McBride to discuss issues such as abandoned fencing, broken lamp posts, concrete blocks, abandoned cones, builders waste and the ruined (burned-out) cottage. Unsightly and unsafe for people and nature.
It was a very amicable walk-around with Brian showing genuine concern and a willingness to take action. I also got an insight into their own constraints around tight man power and cost management. Things I understand all too well!
Following our Tuesday meeting I received an email (and photos) outlining the main points discussed. I must admit I thought it would be sometime (if at all) that anything would happen. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to see a big yellow fork-lift truck and a couple of chaps coming past my house on Saturday morning!
Although not technically part of the Dunain Community Woods remit and plans, I hope local residents take pride in the clean-up work being undertaken on their behalf. There's a lot still to do, but it's a great start. Thank you Jim and Brian.
I hope these early gestures will turn into a genuine partnership with Robertson's, resulting in ongoing projects the entire community can get involved in, with all parties mutually benefiting.
Stay tuned for clean-up part 2, and progress with Jade O'Hara - Robertson's Community Engagement Officer.