Tiptree Heath has a long term ongoing link with Thurstable
School through its Duke of Edinburgh volunteer groups attending work
parties. The link was set up by Science
teacher Peter Wilson over 30 years ago.

This year was no exception and a hard working group of nine
Year 10 students, and their parents, joined us at four 3-hour work parties over
the last two months. We were not lucky
with the weather on two of those occasions, but decided it all helped to add to
the character building!

Projects worked on included reducing the invasion of gorse
across the heath by cutting and burning large stands; clearing the stream by
removing the undergrowth which was growing into it and would pollute it when
the leaves drop. One of the nastiest
jobs was to break into a dense thicket of blackthorn on the triangle across the
Maldon Road and cut out the worst ready for burning. Blackthorn can be very painful if you don’t handle it with
respect, and I’m pleased to say there were no injuries.

All in all an excellent job was done by the youngsters, and
they were a friendly, thoughtful group.
Each work party was attended by 4 or 5 of our heath volunteers to advise
on techniques and to keep everyone safe.
The Mums and Dads were also a major asset to the groups and I’d like to
thank everyone for taking part in what was a very worthwhile effort to help us
maintain our heathland restoration progress towards ‘favourable condition’.

Below are a few pictures of the action. The first one is taken at the end of the first week, and the second shows the blackthorn before cutting. The last picture sums it all up – exhausting!