Timeline, 2003 - 2014

The Ordnance Survey for 2004 shows the BWT land crossed by three public footpaths:-

  1. Running east from Holy Cross Church to Roundwell crossing the Lilk stream at the top end of Major's Lake below Gore Cottage.
  2. Running south east from the first path along the line of the Old Avenue to meet the Ashford Road on the western side of Major's Lakes.
  3. Running south from Sutton Street to the Ashford Road opposite Tudor Park Hotel. 

2003

  • By 2003 14 acres of land had been lying unused, awaiting planning permission, for 16 years, so it was in pretty bad shape, "derelict, scruffy and abused ... with remains of old buildings, parts of bricks, roofing sheets, and broken glass." 
  • Wards began felling trees on the day of the Bearsted Fayre in June 2003, causing public outcry.
  • Mrs Dena Ashness persuaded her husband Richard to buy the land from Wards to be green space for the village.
  • In September The National Woodland Trust were offered the land but refused to run it.
  • October the formation of a new local charity Bearsted Woodland Trust was set up by Richard Ashness, Peter Willson and other volunteer helpers. 
  • In December the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership was appointed to produce a management plan.

2004

  • The first Bearsted Woodland Trust Management Committee held their first meeting in January.
  • A major site clearing day was attended by 100 volunteers in April.  One participant remembers "On the first clear up day there were a few people who brought their own chainsaws to cut up trees that had been felled and took the wood away for their fires.  After that event we were left with half a dozen enormous piles of wood...each the size of about ten normal bonfires. We burned them one by one as part of the clearing up programme.   Such a pity we didn't think of taking photos at the time."
  • The first BWT newsletter by Peter Willson and Richard Ashness was distributed to 3,000 homes in June. It outlined plans for the restoration of grassland, orchard and scrub for wildlife habitat, informal paths, some seating and educational boards and planting of new trees and hedges.

The plan as it appeared in the first newsletter.

Funds to be raised from grants, individual donations, membership and sponsorship. A membership application form was included.

  • In June BWT had a stall at the Bearsted Fayre. 
  • A Summer Event was held on the Church Landway on Sunday 11th July, and Mote Hall garden was open to raise funds.
  • By August 2004 Friends numbered 250 households, and the first management committee had been established.  Chairman Richard Ashness, Deputy Chairman Peter Willson, Membership Records John Baxter, Treasurer Bernard Head, Alan Demaine and Pauline Moore were the first members of the management committee, with Sharon Bayne of Medway Valley Country Partnership advising them.
  • Volunteers (in gloves!) pulled ragwort on 21st August.
  • The Queen's Golden Jubilee Video Team donated their remaining tapes to be sold for the benefit of children using the site.
  • 50 Friends attended the first public meeting (AGM) on Thursday 9th September.
  • 200 woodland bushes and 50 individual trees were sponsored, and planted by over 150 volunteers on 20th and 27th November.
  • In December the first "new style" newsletter (No.4) edited by a team led by Arlene Broadhurst was produced.

2005

  • Frank Manning became Membership Secretary and Chris Street took on the newsletter distribution. 
  • Successful grant applications were made to Living Spaces, the Local Heritage Initiative and the Colyer Fergusson and Woodland Trusts.
  • A new gate was installed at the main entrance from the Church Landway. 
  • The Phase Two planting scheme and a membership renewal campaign were launched in June.
  • BWT were prominent at Bearsted Fayre, and membership rose above 500 families.
  • A second open afternoon at Mote Hall for members and their families displayed the plan for Phase Two planting and recruited more new members.
  • In August some wheelchair paths were completed and regular monthly working parties began.
  • Newsletter No.7 announced a generous future bequest of 12 acres to BWT by Miss Pauline Moore, the owner of the nearby riding school, who officially opened the new paths in September.
  • The second planting phase in Autumn 2005 added 87 large trees and 58 boundary trees, the work again being done by volunteers.

2006

  • In February BWT plans for 8 acres of land purchased by the founder trustees at Gore Cottage (to be called Barn Meadow) were circulated to the whole village.
  • More new members were enrolled at Holy Cross Open Day and Bearsted Fayre, bringing membership of BWT Friends to over 700 families by the third AGM in September.
  • A further triangular acre of land above Major's Lake was also purchased to enable a link to be made by a path across the Lilk stream.
  • Mr and Mrs Browne generously donated a strip of the bottom of their garden to widen another path on the east of the Lilk stream.

2007

  • In January hedges and trees in Barn Meadow were planted.
  • An appeal for the new bridge was launched in March.
  • In June Councillor Pat Marshall unveiled the new notice board at the Church Landway entrance.
  • A Gurka squadron, supervised by BWT project leader Dave Johnson, built the new bridge over the Lilk stream
  • The Mayor of Maidstone (Cllr Richard Ash) and Major MacCullum, the Ghurka Commanding Officer opened the bridge
  • The BWT website was launched to help an energetic campaign to raise money for making paths to the bridge and beyond.
  • BWT won a substantial grant towards footpaths from the National Lottery People's Millions Competition in November. 
  • An avenue of Kanzan cherries was planted along the path beside Holy Cross church in November
  • Sandy Fleming, Fiona Marriner and Sandra Knatchbull, took over as Editors for Newsletter 12 which was designed by Simon Penry. 

2008

  • March saw the first nature conservation visit by classes from Thurnham Infants School.
  • 170 children from five local churches enjoyed an Easter egg hunt round the BWT site.
  • In May gentle paths for buggies and scooters funded by grants from the People's Millions Competition and BIFFA, were constructed on both sides of the new bridge.
  • A special gate for wheelchair access was installed the Sutton Street entrance.
  • The grand path opening in July was attended by over 200 people.
  • In September the fifth AGM gave a resounding go-ahead for a new tractor barn.
  • In September BWT was joined by its 1,000th Friend.
  • Woodlander newsletters 12, 13, 14 and 15 were published

2009

  • Army Engineers built the tractor barn between January and March.
  • In March Thurnham Infants school made a nature conservation visit.
  • HSBC staff made paths in the ancient wood and steps near Gore Cottage.
  • In June a children's maze was cut in memory of Management Committee member Frank Manning.
  • In July an adventure playground for children aged 4-12 was built by Bearsted Parish Council on BWT land.
  • In September Deputy Chairman Peter Willson was appointed Life President, with a special tree.
  • In October the Trust won the Regional and National rounds of the Biffaward Competition.
  • In the winter 25 new trees were planted along the boundary to screen houses on the A20.
  • The year ended with hard frosts and snow.
  • Barn Appeal Gifts totalled £22,398 and included; Councillor Paul Carter £1,000, Awards For All £4,000, The Potted Garden Nursery £500
  • Newsletters 16 and 17 were published

2010

  • In January pollution from a diesel after a crash on the icy M20 threatened the Lilk stream, but the Environment Agency arrived quickly to minimise damage.
  • February brought dramatic floods.
  • The tractor barn, finished by volunteers was officially opened in April.
  • BWT began involvement in two national conservation projects, for woodland and wild flowers.
  • An  electric scooter was acquired to lend to disabled visitors.
  • Newsletters 18 and 19 named "The Woodlander" were edited by Fiona Mariner and Sandra Knatchbull and designed by Paul Street. 

2011

  • Palm Sunday procession to Holy Cross Church.
  • A Royal Wedding Picnic for families was very popular.
  • Geen Flag Status, in the highest category was awarded to BWT.
  • In October Sharon Bayne, BWT's Environment and Countryside Consultant for 7 years was created an Honorary Life Member.
  • In November, hedge planting by volunteers around Miss Pauline Moore's land was supported by BTCV, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Tree Council, the Phillips Foundation and Councillor Jenny Whittle. 
  • Bequests in 2011came from Bearsted Veterinary Surgery £300, Bearsted Parish Council £250, Councilors Richard Ash & Allan Bradshaw (devolved budgets) £400, Councillor Paul Carter (KCC member community grant) £250 and Maidstone Soroptomists £140.  A mobile phone was kindly donated by Kevin Reynolds, in memory of his uncle Mr Lionel Reynolds 
  • Newsletter 20 was the first of seven edited by Moira Mitchell and John Wale and designed by Paul Street.

2012

  • The land management plan was updated to run until 2015.
  • BWT bought a much needed second tractor.
  • The trust continued to host visits by parties of school children and groups of volunteers.
  • We were awarded the Green Flag for the second year running.
  • Sponsorship of trees and benches flourished.
  • Volunteers helped with emergency raking of wet hay after the very wet summer.
  • Miss Pauline Moore, a faithful supporter and benefactor, died in August leaving ten acres to BWT.
  • Generous bequests came from the estate of Mr Trevor Coulter £116,000, Phillips Foundation £1,962, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers £1,000, Councillor Jenny Whittle (devolved budget) £1,000, and Bearsted Veterinary Surgery £140
  • Woodlanders 21 and 22 were published

2013

  • A survey was made to discover views about possible future uses of the new ten acres.
  • Conclusions from the survey were published in Woodlander 23 in the Spring.
  • The Bark in the Park dog show was popular in May.
  • Peter Willson, BWT Trustee and Life President, died in July.
  • Dave Johnson, Maintenance Organiser, died, and Jeff Winn took over his job.
  • Riders Wood was planted in December.
  • A bench in memory of Pauline Moore was installed in Moore Meadow.
  • Woodlanders 23 and 24 were published.

2014

  • BWT celebrated its ten year anniversary with a family-based afternoon in August.
  • The Turkey Oak in Moore Meadow fell in Hurricane Gonzalo in October.
  • BWT held a survey of Friends called "Access for All" to assess the impact of problems with badly controlled dogs. 
  • Newsletters 25 and 26 were published.

The next ten years are displayed on a new page ...