'Caring for the local environment'
Here is our esteemed Project Leader Steve Hunter aka Grumpy. He has organised the group since 2007 when the Spring Watch Action Team - SWAT- came along to sort out the pond on Westwoodside. Several local people, including Steve, were working in the woodland independently trying to keep it tidy and safe. In 2010 they came together more formally as part of Churwell Action Group CAG but soon changed to become Churwell Environmental Volunteers CEV.
Steve organises groups of volunteers to undertake tasks in and around the woods. He has always been interested in outdoor activities and wildlife and he has worked tirelessly developing the woods into the amazing place they now are. On an average work day there can be between 15-20 volunteers all of whom need to be kept busy. Steve works closely with Parks and Countryside and Leeds City Council and has regular meetings with the Ranger. He identifies areas that need making safe or improving. This urban woodland is a unique public space in the middle of a housing estate. Steve ensures that it caters to all the people who use it both young and old. He makes sure that the group recycle as much as possible and we also take many donations of equipment and materials.
Now Steve has retired from paid work he has much more time on his hands. 2020 saw him out everyday opening the accessible gates and working on plans to make the area a brilliant learning environment for people who were home schooling, nurseries and child minders. Steve is keen to encourage the community spirit that has been a key part of the groups work. When asked what he enjoyed most about being the Project Leader he said, after a lot of thought, all of it.
Meet Stephen Seale who is the General Manager or bloke in charge of the Churwell Woodland Railway. He has recently taken on the role of storeman for CEV. He has tidied up the store and hopefully made it easier for the volunteers to find the equipment they need.
The CWR was built by vounteers in 2014 in a very overgrown and neglected area of woodland. It has become quite a focus for the area. The train runs twice a month from March to October and is a key feature in our big events. We run the Easter Eggspress, Hallowe'en Ghost Trains and the Santa Express. It is very popular with the local people who funded the railway through donations. We also have charity events and have supported many good causes. The CWR has achieved national acclaim in the world of miniature railways. We have had visitors from far and wide who have come to travel on it. It has an operating team of 4-5 plus a catering and ticket sales team of 3.
Stephen enjoys playing trains so to have one to run on his doorstep is a dream come true. He enjoys the pleasure it gives to the local people who turn up time and time again to have a ride. He was delighted that after a thorough risk assessment we were COVID safe and could run the train in the summer months 2020 much to the pleasure of local people.
Meet Joanna Coultous who started with the group as a litter picker in 2010.She and John organised the first event in 2012 with an Easter Egg Hunt around the area to showcase the work the group had done. Thinking only a few people would turn up they were shocked to see around 150. From then the events became a regular feature of the groups activities. It was clear that people enjoyed coming along and finding out more about the area and taking part in activities such a wreath making, den building, making bird boxes... The events have always been supported by local businesses and many local people hire a table to sell their produce.
When the CWR was built she then turned to catering with a dedicated team of bakers and ticket sellers to provide much needed refreshment to both the opertors and the public. In 2018 she joined a woodwork group and her first project was to build the little library which has proved very popular.
Joanna enjoys being out in the woods and can sometimes be found in the middle of a pond wearing waders.