On 6th October 2017, over 80 employee volunteers from CMPP joined local residents in Frimley and volunteered a day of their time to clean and dig out an old Balancing Pond which has not been maintained in over 20 years.
The Balmoral Balancing Pond plays an important role in the local community and is much more than a beautiful feature for Paddock Hill estate. The ponds main purpose is to reduce the risk of pollution and the risk of flooding in the local area whilst providing a sanctuary for wildlife to flourish. Due to lack of manpower and funding the Balancing Pond had grown into a reed-filled jungle.
Volunteers (from Aldershot Garrison, Alphabet, Aviator, BMW, Capquest, Farnborough Business Park, HRG, The Sixth Form College Farnborough, Source Supplies, TAG Farnborough Airport and UK Cloud) arrived for 9.00am where they were welcomed and shown to Frimley Baptist Church. The members of the church kindly hosted the team for the day and provided a wealth of refreshments and biscuits and a warm shelter for the hard working volunteers. After a health and safety briefing from Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Greenspace Team, the enthusiastic volunteers were able to safely strip back the shrubbery that lined the pond including overgrown brambles, trees and reeds and very quickly the pond became visible again and wildlife started to emerge.
The project’s key theme is to help support young people in the local area. As such, Sandringham School and Nursery, who are located on the Paddock Hill estate were invited to be a part of the project. The school kindly decorated bird and bat boxes to fill trees around the pond and also visited on the day to see the work in progress.
Caroline Wells, who organised the school's involvement said, “We were really surprised to see so many people coming together to transform the pond. The children loved visiting and watching the volunteers in action which included a number of mums and dads from the school. A number of children mentioned that they had been here before but had never seen a pond and how strange that was! We will be able to use the pond for school nature projects in the future which will be a great added educational resource. Thank you to all involved for making this happen.”
At the start of the day, volunteers could barely see the pond or benches that lined the walkway. The brambles filled the pathways and bushes and trees were severely overgrown but after a grueling day of physically challenging work, the volunteers finally finished and were able to see the astonishing transformation that they helped make possible.
Christopher Jackman, Resident Volunteer, said, “I always enjoy volunteering; there is something very rewarding about giving something back to your local community. One local resident walked over and gave a box of chocolate to share out as her way of saying thank you. Volunteering in your community is a sure fire way to meet new people, learn something new and have a great day. Since the day I have seen an increase in both people walking around the pond and wildlife. It just shows you what can be achieved when like-minded people come together.”
Emma Weight, Employee Volunteer from Alphabet UK, said: “I was really keen to get involved in the Balmoral Pond project, not just because I love wildlife/nature but I had access to a similar wildlife area at school so I wanted to make sure as many students could have similar memories and experiences with their local area. Plus the bonus is it’s a public pond so everyone can enjoy it! What I loved most would be the fun had whilst doing some hard work and seeing, what felt like an instant change we made as a team was the best. I think the phrase “Many hands make light work” is the shortest way I can explain why it’s so important to volunteer & support the community. It may be just one day out of my time, but the truth is it does have a lasting effect that benefits others, whether it be a physical project or a skill share with a student. I, like anyone, can get wrapped up in my own life so the fact working with CMPP makes it easy to take the opportunity to make a difference locally is priceless.“
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Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who gave up their time to transform Balmoral Balancing Pond!