Hundreds of families descended on a sun-drenched Sutton Manor Community Woodland this autumn for The Elf & Fairy Fair, a family event which demonstrated the potential of Bold Forest Park, the maturing cluster of community woodlands being developed to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits to St.Helens.
1,500 revellers came along dressed as wizards, elves and fairies and added to their costumes throughout the afternoon by using natural materials to make wands, wings, fairy crowns and jewellery in the Fair's six woodland workshops.
They also enjoyed enchanted storytelling, magic-themed facepainting, marshmallows around the fire and more, all as part of The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project to encourage more people to explore their local environment.
Mum of two Dawn Holden said: "We have some beautiful countryside just outside our front door but we don't always see its beauty - an event like this brings people to these beautiful places. We had a tired elf and fairy in our house that evening!"
Sharon Prendergast from Newton-Le-Willows added: "What an absolutely fabulous day – we need more family days out like that."
The afternoon was organised by The Mersey Forest in partnership with Forestry Commission and St.Helens Council as part of Access to Nature, a national scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
The Fair was also part-funded by the EU Interreg IVb programme, as part of the PURE HUBS project (standing for "Pioneers in Urban Rural Entrepreneurship").
PURE HUBS is providing funding to St.Helens Council and sub-partners The Mersey Forest and St.Helens Chamber to encourage much greater community involvement and business development in Bold Forest Park across four areas: supporting businesses/job creation, promotion of the Forest Park via an interactive website, delivery of "Forest School" outdoor education with local schools, and the development of an Area Action Plan.
Work is continuing on all of these fronts, with recent achievements including a Forest School taster day held last week at Clock Face Country Park for local teachers which follows the success of a similar session in July (see photos and report). Meanwhile a public consultation on a draft version of the Area Action Plan is now scheduled for early 2013.
In October 2012, PURE HUBS partners from the Netherlands and Belgium visited St.Helens to find out more about Bold Forest Park, including being shown the work-in-progress website of local walks, bike rides and places to eat and drink that is currently being developed.
Christmas in Bold Forest Park
The Mersey Forest's Access to Nature project is supporting a range of vulnerable people in the run-up to Christmas.
Groups from drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction, mental health charity Mind and St.Helens' Deafness Resource Centre will visit Griffin Wood at a series of sessions this month to create natural Christmas tree decorations from woodland materials.