On Sunday 2 February the South Downs National Park (SDNP) Rangers, led by Chloe, arranged to come to West Ashling to clear the laurels in the upper level of the Dell.. The SDNP are very keen on promoting the flora and fauna of the Dell as it is an ideal and idyllic setting. The fact that there is a completely unmanaged wood to the west sends them into raptures. They quote beetles, birds, worms and all sorts of other creatures that flourish in these conditions. Laurels are not regarded as favourites in this environment, as they are not native and very invasive so they had to go!
Nick Dunnett the person who got the SDNP interested in the Dell and invited me to join him in the discussions. Unfortunately he could not be there on Sunday so he asked me to take over the organisation of some volunteers to join the Rangers. I must say this was not a problem! I think there were about thirteen of us plus five rangers. Our group included a bonfire builder and a man with a super duper leaf blower and chainsaw. Nick had organised some dry wood and diesel to get the bonfire going, which was a great help as the weather was a trifle damp, to say the least! The leaf blower helped and, once it was going, the cut laurel made a bonfire of heroic proportions.
It was a very jolly occasion helped along by one of the wives handing out coffee and biscuits to get us all going and Chloe had a small portable stove to make hot drinks. It was, however, quite hard work but everybody contributed in their own way.
Chloe said that she had never had such a large and enthusiastic turnout by a village before and congratulated us on it. I might add that the average age was about sixty – some younger and some a lot older.
So many thanks to the park rangers and to all the hard working volunteers.
Barbara Roskell for and on behalf of Funtington Parish Council