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IoW GG links

To look at the Isle of Wight Green Gym web page (contains details of sessions etc) please use the following link :-

The link to Twitter is

If you would like to leave us any comments then please use this link

Friday 30 September 2011

Wed 28th Sept 2011 - Heytesbury Road Recreation Ground, Yarmouth.

Almost every other week recently I seem to be starting this blog with "This week GG were at another new venue..." and this week is yet another one on the ever growing list! Perhaps it was the glorious weather (blue sky and temperatures in the mid 20's C) or the thought of the wonderful views across the marsh that encouraged around 40 GG members to turn out on Wednesday morning. As we walked through the beautifully cut grass on the recreation ground, you could almost hear the comments " Well, not much for us to get stuck into here" - how wrong we were! Mark soon pointed us in the direction of an area that seems to left to do it's own thing for ever and a day - so lopers, saws and slashers were the tools of the day. The plan was that we would reclaim the area around a drainage ditch from the brambles and undergrowth that had covered the whole area. The cut down items were stacked into nature piles and the team made steady progress at hacking into the "jungle". The sun was particularly hot so many thanks to the kind lady who came out with jugs of cold water to keep the troops happy.....!

Press release from Mark........(and also thanks to him for the photograph this week)

Island’s High Sheriff joins the Isle of Wight Green Gym

The Island’s Green Gym conservation group has had the pleasure recently of welcoming a special new member to their ranks. The Island’s High Sheriff, Susie Sheldon, joined them for a session to help with the clearing of scrub on some land in Yarmouth.

The IW Green Gym is an independent conservation group linked nationally to the BTCV. They work right across the Island with charities, schools, parishes and councils to help improve the environment. Yarmouth Town Council was the partner on this occasion and supported the group. This week’s task was on a site which acts almost as a buffer zone between the recreation ground and the far quieter environment of Rofford Marsh with its valuable habitat, with SSSI status, important for wildlife with specialist flora and fauna including wading birds such as Snipe and Little Ringed Plover. The IW Green Gym is almost always well attended with 41 volunteers all doing their bit this week to help with the management of scrub along the site’s boundary. It is important to occasionally clear some areas of scrub, both to maintain the habitat and to inspect such things as ditches and boundaries. The group got to work and succeeded in completing the project in hand, in spite of some vicious bramble which has a tendency to attempt to fight back! Many volunteers were cutting away the scrub whilst others including pupils from St Georges School and a group from OSEL were busy creating habitat piles for the benefit of invertebrates and small mammals. During the morning their special guest the High Sheriff, Susie Sheldon involved herself in the task as she learnt about the IW Green Gym and the work the dedicated volunteers do, week in and week out around the Island.

Susie commented “This is volunteering and community work at its best, with people of all different ages and abilities sharing in the hard work, physical exercise, and social interaction at the same time as learning about the rural environment. I really enjoyed meeting all the people involved and relished the work, even the brambles.

The IW Green Gym volunteers enjoyed meeting Susie and were taken by her willingness to get stuck in with the task in hand. In response the Group’s Chairman Mark Russell said

“Our group is of course very practical in our approach to things; it is quite clear that Susie is in tune with this attitude to life and I know this was appreciated by the other volunteers. All in all it was a fantastic session in what was tremendously hot weather, so I’d like to thank Susie very much for finding time to come along and support us this week.”

For details of the IW Green Gym’s Autumn 2011 programme visit or telephone 866459.

Contact Details:

Mark Russell – Chairman

The Isle of Wight Green Gym is an independent community group providing an opportunity for caring for the environment and at the same time improving your health through various conservation tasks. We are one of around 90 nationwide and are affiliated to the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers).

Thursday 22 September 2011

Wed 21st Sept 2011 - Kitbridge Farm, Newport.

Although the weather was supposed to be dry, Wednesday morning was damp and drizzly as we assembled at Kitbridge Farm. Considering the damp start, we had an excellent attendance and as per usual Mark soon had us working away at various tasks around this amazing site. Having been briefed to keep a good lookout for any wildlife, the teams soon got stuck into clearing a large area to the north of the house (see before and after photographs above) and clearing brambles etc from the front of the house.The cleared area is eventually to be used as a nursery area for the Great Crested Newts. The initial damp start gave way to the occasional sunny spell (more like "real" GG weather!) so the ones who had come in shorts felt vindicated in their choice of attire....! Mark was kind enough to show interested people around the site and was on hand to answer any questions we had.

Carrie's Nature Lesson

Although not everyone's idea of interesting wildlife, our work clearing the site at Kitbridge uncovered lots of creepy crawlies, and the one in the picture is a Black Slug (Arion Ater), which is the 'grand-daddy' of garden slugs reaching lengths of eight inches! although up to 5 inches is more typical. The skin is coarse and granular and the sole is pale, often fringed with orange. Due to its huge size the Black Slug often accepts the blame for most of the damage to gardens, but actually its three smaller cousins wreak the most havoc. It prefers a diet of rotting vegetation, fungi, manure and even the odd decomposing dead animal (we found it under some rotten logs), and only during spring when these aren't so abundant and tender young seedlings are, does it cause most damage in the garden. So remember the old saying

"If it's black, put it back,
If it's grey, keep it at bay"

When disturbed it contracts itself into a slimy hemispherical hump, making itself difficult to be pecked up by a hungry bird, and sometimes rocks from side to side, possibly in an attempt to confuse its predator. Other more cuddly creatures disturbed were a baby rabbit and two small mice.

History Lesson ( provided by Mark Earp)

Apparently the site at Kitbridge was a huge military camp, and some 10,000 items have been found across the site including round rifle shots (which are amazingly heavy and must have done considerable damage to a human body), one of the first bullets, accoutrements from horse harnesses, helmet decorations, a large number of pewter badges, long clay pipes and metal spoons - certainly a very fascinating selection of discoveries.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs & nature lesson and to Mark for the historical facts.

Wed 14th Sept 2011 - IoW GG Receives CPRE Award.

Isle of Wight Green Gym joining the

CPRE-IW’s ‘Stop the drop!’ campaign.

The Isle of Wight branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE-IW) has been actively encouraging local groups of volunteers here on the Island to take part in the National Office of CPRE’s campaign to ‘Stop the Drop’.

CPRE-IW has been awarding grants to volunteer groups for their work in removing litter and rubbish from around the Island. During a recent session of the IW Green Gym the group was presented with a cheque for £100 by Chairman of CPRE-IW, John Langley, in recognition of the ongoing work the Green Gym does to help prevent the littering of the Island’s countryside.

Responding to the presentation the IW Green Gym’s treasurer Geoff Harris commented

“We are very grateful for this award, Our running costs are ever increasing particularly insurance, our use of the van and its fuel, the upkeep and replacement of tools as well as phone calls and postage. Every contribution helps us keep up with these demands”.

IW Green Gym volunteers have always made it a responsibility if they can to recover any litter found during their weekly activities around the Island; but in addition to that commitment earlier this summer they again undertook several sessions to help to remove rubbish from some of the Island’s beaches.

Recently at Watershoot Bay, the IW Green Gym held this year’s session to help to clean up the group's adopted beach. A successful day saw 29 volunteers take part. This was the fourth successive year in which the group has cleaned the shoreline here of debris, the majority of which had been washed in on the tide. Over that period more than 100 bags have been removed from the beach. Again this year's beach clean was also possible with thanks to help from The National Trust and the IW Council. Amongst a wide variety of things found were polystyrene, plastic bottles and many segments of fishing net of varying sizes, just some examples of the many hundreds of small items recovered, all potentially harmful to marine life and sea-birds and now safely removed. In addition several large items were recovered including a gas bottle, a 25 lt oil drum and a ship’s rudder!

For details of the IW Green Gym Autumn 2011 programme visit or telephone 866459.

Contact Details:

Mark Russell – Chairman

Notes to Editor:

The Isle of Wight Green Gym is an independent community group providing an opportunity for caring for the environment and at the same time improving your health through various conservation tasks. We are one of around 90 nationwide and are affiliated to the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers).

Thursday 15 September 2011

Thur 15th Sept 2011 - IoW Green Gym 400th Session Press Release.

News Release: For release after 14th September 2011

Isle of Wight Green Gym – Reaching 400!

Have the IW Green Gym been working in your neck of the woods recently? The chances are they have, as each week, for fifty weeks a year, this independent and proactive group hold conservation based activities right across the Island.

Recently the IW Green Gym has reached another milestone, their 400th Wednesday morning Session.

IW Green Gym is linked to the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), both in their principles of getting fit in the open air, and engaging communities in positive action for the environment.

These aims obviously are working as some of the members of IW Green Gym have been participating since the start in 2003. Committee members, Colin and June Withers, Secretary and Membership Officer respectively were founder members of the IW Green Gym. Many of the volunteers who joined them in the following years regularly make up the 30-40+ who attend each week doing great work to enhance our lovely island.

Eight years on among the many awards and commendations the IW GG has achieved is the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service which was presented to the group in 2009 by their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

To celebrate this 400th Session, the group is working at St Swithin’s old churchyard in Thorley. The work being carried out helps to manage this delightful location for the community and wildlife. This site is typical of many the group work on - hidden gems of the Island’s countryside, all needing the hands-on approach the group brings.

The IW Green Gym continues to benefit both the Island’s communities and its environment through its activities. The benefits also extend to those taking part each week, as volunteering is very much a two-way process, giving one’s time in exchange for improved fitness and well-being, and gaining skills and knowledge while making new friendships along the way.

Mark Russell, Chairman of IW Green Gym, commented.

“The 400th session is a big anniversary for the group. We have come a long way and I’d very much like to thank the committee for their continued help in making it all possible.

Many thanks of course too to the fantastic body of volunteers who attend each week. Very little gets in the way of Green Gyming, I think it could almost be addictive!

Thanks also go to the many friends who have helped over the years, and to the 400+ people who have taken part in Green Gym sessions over the years and the more than 100 site owners and contributors.

Lastly we should thank The Footprint Trust which has supported us in many ways over the years and who originally began the Green Gym on the Island. ”.

For details of the IW Green Gym Autumn 2011 programme visit or telephone 866459.

Contact Details:

Mark Russell – Chairman

The Isle of Wight Green Gym is an independent community group providing an opportunity for caring for the environment and at the same time improving your health through various conservation tasks. We are one of around 90 nationwide and are affiliated to the BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers).

Wed 14th Sept 2011 - St Swithin's Old Churchyard, Thorley.

Green Gym had somewhere new to work at this week - the "Old Church" site at Thorely. To call it the Old Church site is technically incorrect as the building is in fact a mortuary which was formed after the church that was on this site was moved closer to the village (please read Carrie's history lesson below). We had an excellent turnout - perhaps the promise of the 400th Green Gym birthday cake encouraged more people to attend...? The area was in need of a good makeover and soon there were working parties cutting and raking in all four corners of the site. As can be seen from the "before & after" photographs above - excellent progress was made around the majority of the area. The composting pile shown in the picture above was only one of two so you can judge how much was achieved. Even the couple of rain showers didn't dampen the spirits of the workforce and the excellent cake at tea break must have fuelled the second half of the session...!

Carrie's History Lesson.

This week we were working in Thorley at St Swithin's Mortuary Chapel, which is the remains of the former parish church. It has a 13th century porch with bellcote from a church built for the wife of Baldwin de Redvere Earl of Devon, which was demolished in 1871 when the modern church was built at Thorley Street, and the remains of the old church were converted into a mortunary chapel. It is built of stone rubble with a tiled roof, is gable ended and all corners have angled buttresses. The south front has a centred doorway over which is a tablet with the inscription "this mortuary chapel was built in May 1871". The ancient portion formed the bell turret of the old church of Thorley". The planked door is 19th century with a lancet window above, while the east and west sides have rectangular bell openings with dripmould below and louvred shutters. On the north side there was a double lancet window.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs and history lesson.

Friday 9 September 2011

Wed 7th Sept 2011 - All Saints Church, Freshwater.

Mark's Pictures.

Carrie's Photographs.

Team GG were back out West Wight this week at All Saints Church, Freshwater. Frequent readers of this blog will know that we have visited here several times before so it was all steam ahead to continue with the work plan for the churchyard area. The tasks fell into two main areas - the bank and wall area alongside the road - and the boundary wall to the east of the site. Both of these areas were considerably overgrown and need the full attention of the GG "Cut & Hack" operators...! A glance at Carrie's before and after photographs above will show the extent of the work in the road and the wonderful views over the River Yar were revealed when we cut back the overgrown areas to the east. The weather held good for the morning and we had a excellent turnout.

A quick reminder from week will be the 400th Green Gym session so please can we have a really good turnout and for all those who have them, please wear their GG shirts.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for this week's pictures.

Wed 31st Aug 2011 - "The Fort Walk", Bembridge.

As promised on last week's blog, here are the pictures of the brave GGymers who took part on the "Fort Walk". If you look at the last picture, in particular the gentleman on the right, you can see (by the wet look jeans) how high the tide was when they walked out.....!!!! Hope that the boots have dried out fully by now Bob.
Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs.

Friday 2 September 2011

Wed 31st Aug 2011 - Ventnor Botanical Gardens.

Carrie's Photographs.

Mark's Photographs.

The IW Green Gym were busy this week helping at the Botanic Gardens in Ventnor. The tasks included maintenance on the willow dome which the group created back in 2007. Now tidy once again the dome can be enjoyed by all in the meadow area. Other tasks included some clearance of an overgrown border and work to remove the summer's growth of unwanted bramble from a large shrubby area.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

Our find this week, which had self seeded in the compost at the Botanic
Gardens was Himalayan or Indian balsam (Impatiens Glandulifera), a relative
of the Busy Lizzie. It was introduced to British gardens from the Himalayas
in 1839 and since then has become widely naturalised and very invasive, as
it swamps native plants and erodes riverbanks. It is the tallest annual in
Britain growing up to 2 metres in height, with reddish stems and long dark
green lance-shaped leaves with toothed edges. The large brightly coloured
flowers are variable shades of purplish-pink, and occasionally white, and
their appearance has led to the alternative name of 'poor man's orchid'.
Another charming local name, 'bee-bums' has arisen, as it is just the back
end of a bee that can be seen when it visits a flower of this plant.

Many thanks to Carrie & Mark for the photographs - Mark for the editorial and Carrie for the Nature Lesson.

Congratulations to the GG members who completed the "Fort Walk" at Bembridge on Wednesday evening - Anyone got any pictures?