A GROUP looking after a village’s woodlands has been handed a tree-mendous boost and will employ two people.

Gifford Community Woodland, the guardian organisation of Speedy and Fawn Woods on the outskirts of the village, has received a grant of more than £75,000.

The funding has come through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with a project manager and administrator to be appointed as the woods support the health and wellbeing of the local community.

Roo Hardy, chairperson of Gifford Woods, was delighted with the award and said: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are excited that not only can we continue to look after the woods for future generations, but that we can also engage local people of all ages in the woods.

“Our Gifford Woods play a major role in our natural heritage, but they also aid the physical and mental health of our local community.”

Speedy Woods and Fawn Woods, near the village’s Station Road, were purchased by Gifford Community Land Company (GCLC) in 2017 on behalf of the local community with the aim to protect, maintain and conserve the natural environment, improve accessibility, support the community by providing opportunities for all to come together, and provide educational opportunities within the woods for the community.

Since then, various path upgrades have been carried out, with the new funding providing a further boost.

The cash grant means the project team will be able to further engage local people with the woods through new initiatives to protect their beauty and role as part of Gifford’s natural heritage.

The grant covers 58 per cent of the overall project costs and has been supported by other recent successful fundraising activities, including a grant of £25,000 from the Fallago Rig Environment Fund.

Donations from local people have been critical too, primarily through the recently launched ‘Friends of Gifford Woods’ scheme.

So far, more than 70 local people have committed to support the woods through regular giving.

The new funding will enable the recruitment of two part-time roles – a project manager and an administrator – meaning that the woodlands will provide new employment opportunities for local people.

Other activities that the funding will support include volunteer days and training; school and nursery educational sessions; youth and adult events to share information about natural heritage, plus social and engagement activities for people of all ages, run in conjunction with other community groups.

In addition, the grant will assist with ongoing woodland management to protect and preserve the woods, and with initiatives to aid understanding of the wildlife that calls Gifford Woods home – such as a repeat of the mammal survey which became a viral hit back in November when trail camera videos shared online were viewed thousands of times.

Applications are now open for both positions and anyone interested in finding out more should go to giffordcommunitywoods.blogspot.com