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11 November 2010

A successful AGM was held on 6 October. Douglas Wilson was elected as a new Director; Adrian Clark and Christine Hamilton, who had been previously co-opted, also became elected directors, joining Janey Clarke, Keith Kennedy and Neil McKie.

The meeting passed the requisite resolutions to allow EWCC to become a charity. The annual accounts were approved.

 Adrian Clark, acting chair, gave a report which went over some of the points provided in thew written report:

Current Membership = 60 (increased to 70 at meeting).

Directors: (Elected) Janey Clarke, Neil Mackie, Keith Kennedy, Mark Stevens; (Co-opted) Donald Buntain (resigned April 2010), Christine Hamilton, Adrian Clark.

Funding: Highland Council/Highland LEADER awarded a Project Development Grant of £1900 to undertake a run a children’s artwork project, develop a marketing pack, develop a fund-raising strategy and training plan and to run some guided walks and small events.

Kiltearn Community Council additionally awarded £500 towards a Family Event and £500 towards legal fees.

Main Themes. We have been working towards a) involving community more in the wood, b) raising the profile of the initiative and c) finding out what people in Evanton want with regards to Evanton Wood. We have set up website and Facebook page and have had good press coverage of events we have organised.

Our first project was with Primary 4/5 at Kiltearn who made an art booklet with community artist Lizzie McDougall about the animals that live in the wood. These booklets are on sale in the village and are to in use for marketing and promotion to raise funds within the local business community. 

We have organised three family events: Easter event – Easter service led by Rev: Donnie MacSween, with egg painting and Easter egg rolling; a music event with local musicians; and a sponsored cycle and walk/woodland activity day. All events were well attended, 60-70 at Easter event and Sponsored Walk/Cycle event and 30 at music event. Sponsored cycle and walk raised about £500.

Forester Cameron Ross has led two guided walks, one for the Healthy Walking Group and one for members and the public. Both were well attended, with about 26 people on each.

Two dawn chorus walks attracted five or six people each. Simon Cohen the local British Trust for Ornithology rep did a breeding bird survey and found 22 species of breeding birds.

We have met with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Red Squirrel Project, the Scottish School of Forestry, Highland Birchwoods and had contact with Scottish National Heritage and the Community Woodland association all of whom support our efforts to buy the wood. Juliet Robinson the Red Squirrel Project officer came out and looked at signs of red squirrels in Evanton wood with members of EWCC. A squirrel feeding box has been placed on the ridge. We explored the feasibility of a wood fuel project with wood fuel officer from Highland Birchwoods, Amanda Calvert and Cameron Ross.

We have engaged a fundraising advisor Kirsty Bateson, who advised us to do a community survey, which we have done, and to develop an advisory group including SNH which we are working towards; also that we apply for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have made a pre-application to them and are now in the process of making a full application.

We have carried out a multi-question community survey over the last few weeks. Out of 82 respondents, 94% said they visit the wood. 76% are in support of a community buy out of the wood, and would like to see it being for the community and not changed too much. Improvements to the paths and some signage, benches and seating and cycle tracks were all popular with respondents.

We have recently held an event for local companies in the wood, followed by a presentation of the art booklets by P5/4 Kiltearn Primary School. Two companies sent representatives, many others expressed interest in our work and we will be following up accordingly.

Our next steps are to update the Business Plan, based on priorities from the recent survey; finalise the application to the Heritage Lottery Fund; register as a Charity; identify suitable trusts to apply to and to follow up local companies. We are grateful to Novar Estate for permission to hold events in the wood, also to our funders and members. If we are to be successful in buying Evanton Wood, we will need to attract additional support from people in the village. We will seek to co-opt additional members to the Board.


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