We held our Annual General Meeting on 19th November; this year online because of the COVID-19 restrictions. Our chairman, Nick Johnson, summarised the year with his report.
Since our last annual general meeting, we have faced a global pandemic which no one could have anticipated and which has had a major impact on our lives and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
We, therefore, started the year with our planned litter picks, conservation days, and committee meetings. We were also looking to continue our forum meetings with Tatton Estates and Knutsford Town Council over the management of the Heath and future events.
Unfortunately, before the year could properly start we were in lockdown by March which curtailed our activities. However, from a positive aspect, the Heath had a resurgence as a place to congregate and meet. With usual meeting places, closed people took the opportunity to use the Heath as a place to exercise, meet friends and gain relief from the confines of their homes. It was a pleasure to see many families using the Heath for the first time and realising the benefits of having such open space in the centre of town. The Heath came into its own as a refuge for many and has been used by numbers of people not seen in many years.
The Heath flourished this year. The lack of mowing allowed the flowers to grow and it was a beautiful sight to be seen. This endorses our desire to restrict the mowing in certain areas to allow the natural vegetation on the Heath to grow.
During the summer months, we have worked hard to engage with Tatton Estates and the Town Council to get a better understanding of how the Heath should be managed as an open space. There was a very useful meeting in September which was kindly hosted by Tatton Estates at Rostherne, which was an opportunity for the various stakeholders to express their concerns, frustrations and wishes. As friends of the Heath, we see the need to create a framework where we can work together for the benefit of the environment and the community in a sustainable way. While this was a positive meeting more work is necessary particularly in the planning of events where early engagement is necessary with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure we stay true to our guiding principles and have respect to Tatton Estates and other stakeholders.
I should also say that despite the lockdown we have encouraged people to carry out litter picks informally and to keep the Heath tidy. In addition, Tatton Estates have continued to do maintenance with mowing and maintaining the trees and I thank them for that.
We lost two notable figures this year. In the spring, we learned of Barbara Austin’s death. As a trustee of Friends of The Heath, she contributed her time regularly and supported the wider town through her activities as a Town Councillor. Recently, Randle Brooks, who made considerable contributions to Knutsford, particularly with the football and sports clubs, also passed away. Both will be sadly missed by many.
I take the opportunity to thank all the committee members but in particular Graham our secretary and Kevin. Without their efforts, we would struggle to play the role we do and make contributions to maintaining the integrity of the Heath in line with our objectives and guiding principles. I see the work they both do which is considerable and professional. We all see the Heath as the jewel in the crown of Knutsford and want to ensure it remains so.
Finally, I wish that the friends of the Heath remain safe over the coming year and remain in good health.
Chairman, Friends of the Heath