Woburn Watch November: your monthly insight into the build of Woburn Forest

This month we finally catch a glimpse of our first animal, while a local school proves that charity is child’s play

Seed gathering at Coopers Hill
Seed gathering at Coopers Hill
Seed gathering at Coopers Hill
Seed gathering at Coopers Hill

Since 2012 when the building of Woburn Forest began, we have been recording construction through photography and filming. Broadcast Media Services (BMS) are our crew; technically-minded Adam, aka Cookie, and enthusiastic Greg are two members who have remained throughout, with assistance from other colleagues in their Nottingham team. We have captured foundations being laid, tree planting, glazing and tiling, to name but a few, but the one thing we have struggled with until now is snapping the wildlife.

Footprints in the forest
We know they are living at Woburn Forest because we hear reports of them all the time, but until last month we hadn’t captured a single solitary critter. On occasion, it had felt like they were taunting us; rustling in the forest floor, singing from the treetops or leaving footprints. On previous visits Greg had taken to literally darting off into the forest without warning when hearing the sounds of a creature nearby, with camera firmly in hand only then to reappear looking disappointed and slightly silly.

“It had felt like they were taunting us; rustling in the forest floor, singing from the treetops or leaving footprints”

So you can imagine my delight when, in a matter of a few days during November, the BMS crew sent me the latest snaps featuring wildlife aplenty. EMEC, our ecology agency, also sent me the first image of a badger and cubs taken one night in November. Well done to our Ground Services Manager for all his hard work over the past 12 months – the results are plain to see!

Seeds of change
Our work with the forest continues. The Wildlife Trust in Bedfordshire sent me some photos they recently took of the seed gathering at Coopers Hill, about a mile from Woburn Forest, which our Ground Services Manager has been involved in. The local species of seeds, once dried over the winter, will be scattered at Woburn Forest in the spring to further improve the variety of plant life. This is also part of the Living Landscapes mission the charity is working on to encourage wildlife to re-colonise landscapes and to thrive and disperse. It’s a great project.

Recruitment and inductions are in full swing now. There have been some amazing jobs on the careers website recently; my personal favourites are the Internal Plants Ranger, Activity Den Assistant and Spa Concierge. I have also heard that role shadowing has started, with some of the Woburn Forest staff already at existing Villages being shown the ropes. It must be a strange feeling securing a job for a Village that hasn’t been built yet – you have to be quite inventive in ways of training those people up and getting them used to the environment.

Donations and doorknobs
As we are getting close to the end of the year, I have been looking at the donations we have given to local charities near Woburn Forest and the total, since May this year, is more than £10,000 which is amazing! Once Woburn Forest is open, like the existing Villages, there will be a Village Council that decides where donations will go but it’s been lovely for me to have been a part of this. We have been receiving lots of photos of what the donations have been used for; the most recent I received were from a pre-school who had created an outdoor play area out of wood which looked beautiful.

The words ‘fitting out’ have been on lots of update documents this week. Now that the buildings are weather-tight, it’s time to get the fixtures, fittings and flooring in. When I visited the other day I literally walked into a hotel room that was just missing the furniture. There were carpets, sinks, headboards – they had it all. And what a view they have; it’s truly amazing.

Catch up with me in December where I’ll have even more updates for you; I already know that the first lodges are handed over to us very soon!

See you next time,

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Jessica Marshall-Pearce

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Jessica Marshall-Pearce

Since becoming the Woburn Forest Press Officer in 2012 I have had the privilege of spreading the word on our fifth Village, from the planning, construction and recruitment to the nature, local engagement and operations. Get the latest on Woburn Forest with my monthly updates.