Swan Island

The team set to work on making an Island for the swans who live on the lodge at Boarshaw. We wanted to give them a resting spot away from the bank. The main components consisted of a pallet, some plastic wire (for grip and to house a trof of aquatic plants), bottles and some plants adapted to the wet conditions.

   The swans awaiting their new island home.

The team set to work on constructing the raft. The bottles to be used as flotation devices were filled with foam to keep them watertight and the plastic wire was attached to the floor of the raft and at the side made into trofs for the aquatic plants. After lunch where some of the volunteers learnt about the difficulties of playing heads and volleys with steel toe caps on at the nearby pitch, the process of attaching the anchors began. First some of the team set about the task of working out how deep they needed to go by using rope a bottle and a brick as the weight to find the bottom.

Paul assessing the water depth.

After this the final construction process began which involved attaching the anchors and flotation devices and adding the vegetation to the platform.

The team constructing the raft.

When all was done the moment we had all been waiting for arrived, launch time! After a slight mishap on the bank we lowered the platfrom in and it floated, just about! Using a creative method involving a slip knot devised by Paul we were able to tow the island to the middle of the lodge leaving the swans with a new island.   

First Aid Training

On Monday (19th September), the VPA team took the chance to become more knowledgeable first aiders through an ‘Emergency First Aid at Work‘ day course. So instead of heading off to Boarshaw Clough, Monday morning found us sat in a wide, semi-circle around a dummy at Groundwork’s board room, with most of us not expecting what came next…

Our day was taken by a great guy from ABC Response Training, who first ran through ‘DR ABC’: Danger, Response (by shouting, shaking or pinching, whichever works), Airways, Breathing and Circulation – each of the main checks a first aider must know to perform in the correct order, when helping someone affected by an injury.

We then all had the opportunity to practice, approaching an injury scenario on the “poorly” dummy lying in the middle of the room. This meant putting into practice DR ABC, talking to the injured dummy all the time: trying to elicit a response (nope, none), checking for breathing (cheek to mouth, hand on chest – none), and finally delivering 30 chest compressions followed by two resuscitation breaths.

A series of other injury discussions then followed, many introduced with several images (a little discomforting for the more squeamish among us). We also learned how to avoid or deal with such injuries where possible. A few included creating makeshift casts and slings, safely tying up injured legs, and placing people into the recovery position.

Last but not least, everyone was split into groups to practice their newly acquired first aid skills. One member from each group was shuffled out of the room, leaving everyone else to wait for what came next…  Several moments later they returned, arms disfigured (wax) and dripping with (fake) blood). Each team then had to deal with each injury, by following the day’s lessons – an ‘interesting’ practical ending to a brilliant, eye-opening first aid day.

Death to overhanging branches!

The VPA team rocked up to Boarshaw Clough again on Monday, with the aim to repair some load bearing gabions and remove some troublesome branches. Happy to be outside on a pleasant day we took part in a tool talk while watching a wasp attempt to find a home amongst Amy’s hair. A trend is occurring so keep your eyes peeled for which species will join us for next weeks health and safety talk.

The team split into three groups, dividing ourselves up between branch cutting, path strimming and gabion fixing. The gabions were fixed up with new wire and we planted some alpine plants that are known to grow well on rocky patches. Everyone was given a chance at each of these activities, though Colin took to the branch cutting like a man possessed hoping to ensure enough light for the growth of newly planted strawberries and alpine plants.
We had lunch next to Boarshaw lodge sitting in the sunshine. We watched a dog happily bark at a waddling swan, blissfully unaware it could have its arm broken at any moment. With it being Amy’s last Boarshaw foray Suzanne gave her a tree ID exam that Amy eventually passed with 100%, congrats Amy! Tobias was equally happy, when a child’s scooter, found in the undergrowth allowed him to impress the group with attempts at 180 degree bunny hops. Go TJ!
After lunch and with Jo braving the wilds of Scotland, Paul supervised our clearance efforts with the gusto of a man just returned from a 2 week holiday. We cleared the path using a combo of strimmer, saw and shovel, making habitat piles out of the removed branches and turf. Everyone was pretty happy with the results so we set off back to Groundwork HQ to wash the mud off our boots and debrief.