We had a great day in Bere Regis today, and that little village so colourfully named Shitterton, or, to the more coy visitors, Sitterton! It was a public meeting, to enable me to explain our plans to restore an ancient woodland in this area, and also to seek advice and comments from the local folks. It's a beautiful area, a wonderful place to bring up your children, and at the time I was contemplating purchasing, there was a threat of the surrounding area being built on to the tune of hundreds of houses. This was a horrific prospect for the villagers.
Having purchased the farmland in question, we then set about evolving a plan to return the whole site to its ancient glory as original British woodland. My hope that, under the advice of experts who have been working in this district for generations, is to evolve better ways of Husbandry of the woodland, more humane, with no Culling, no pesticides no herbicides, and of course no hunting for pleasure. This will be a safe place for all creatures, and an environment in which the local people can interact with animals in a way which will benefit everyone. Well, that's my hope anyway.
The reaction I got today was incredibly positive. The place was packed to overflow, and in fact we had to make two presentations instead of one. We got great comments, great ideas and a real feeling of a community moving forward in an exciting new project. I'm very excited myself. I think my favourite memory will be a tiny little girl in purple, who came up to me afterwards and said, "Thank you for doing what you're doing".
I hope we get this right. My feeling, and my hope, is that in 100 years time people will be sitting around in Bere Regis discussing this project and saying - "Our grandparents did the right thing for us!"
The only sour note of the whole day, was an article in the Daily Telegraph which was pitifully misinformed, mistakenly describing this project as a 'badger sanctuary' - with one of those quotes from NFU boss Peter Kendall saying that a rock star should not be interfering with Farmers' affairs. Mr Kendall is such a nice man that I'm sure he would not be slagging me off unless he's been misinformed. The project, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Badger Cull. And I should perhaps mention that we will not be bringing any animals in from other areas – that would be a very irresponsible thing to do, especially as this is a TB affected area. The purpose of this project is to provide care for the animals who already inhabit these parts, a corridor where they can enjoy life, and enrich the lives of the local people. For me it's also an opportunity to learn. More soon - and the plans will be on full view to the public.
Cheers - and my big thanks to all who attended the meeting today with such positive energy. Bri