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Steve’s Nature Diary

I sure that like me, you have been following with interest the number of planning applications that have been applied for in and around Sedgefield.

National government has committed to building a further 300,000 homes a year until 2022. In response to this, The Wildlife Trusts have published a new report that shows how new housing developments can be built in a way that provides people with greener, inspirational homes which help to reverse decades of wildlife and habitat decline. The Wildlife Trusts believe that the natural environment must be put at the heart of planning, in order to give the government a chance of meeting its commitment to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than they found it, and to build homes and communities that people enjoy living in.

New houses need to be built, but over the past century we have lost natural habitats on an unprecedented scale, and the report calls on the government and local authorities to build beautiful, nature-friendly communities in the right places. Nature has its own innate value; it makes us happy and we depend on the things it gives us. The new guidelines show that it’s possible to have both, so people can enjoy birdsong, reap the benefits of rain-gardens which soak up floodwater, and have plants that bees and other pollinators need to survive. With good design the costs of doing this are a tiny proportion of the overall cost of a housing development, but represent a big investment for the future.

The report goes on to say “We should prioritise places for new housing that are already well served by infrastructure. We should avoid destroying wildlife sites and locate new houses in places where they can help to restore the landscape and aid natural recovery. It’s possible to create nature-friendly housing by planting wildlife-rich community green spaces, walkways, gardens, verges, roofs, wetlands and other natural features. These gains for wildlife improve people’s health and quality of life too.” The Wildlife Trusts’ blueprint for new nature-friendly homes highlights the myriad of social, environmental and economic benefits of this approach:
• Benefits for wildlife – better protection for wildlife sites, more space for wildlife, improved connectivity and buildings that are more wildlife-friendly
• Benefits for residents – daily contact with nature, improved health, protection against climate extremes, safer transport routes, good sense of community
• Benefits for the economy and wider society – cost-effective environmental protection, employment, space to grow local food, healthier and happier communities putting less pressure on health and social services
• Benefits for developers – satisfied customers, market value, enhanced brand, improved recruitment, improved environmental ranking.
Every year Wildlife Trusts like Durham WT and the Tees Valley WT work to influence local authority planners and respond to thousands of planning applications to benefit wildlife and people alike. We also try to work in partnership with developers to influence the landscape design in and around new developments. ‘Homes for people and wildlife – how to build housing in a nature-friendly way’ can be downloaded by visiting:

Bank closure

Barclays Bank customers have received letters out of the blue, announcing the closure of the Sedgefield branch on 11th May: the decision is based on their finding that "fewer customers are using the branch to do their everyday banking." The alternatives, according to the letter, are to use the next nearest branch, in Newton Aycliffe; to use a Barclays Mobile banking app or Barclays online banking; to withdraw cash and check your balance at a cash machine; and to pay in cash or cheques at the post office. Obviously these are options for some customers, but some do not have a smart mobile phone or a computer. Many like the personal touch of talking to a real person. Regular customers know that they will be met by a friendly face and someone who knows their banking needs.

Of course we shouldn't forget the staff, who also live in our community. Whilst they will be relocated to other branches, they will miss working in the village and have expressed concern, especially for their older customers. We can only wonder what will happen to the building. Is it owned by the Bank?

Is it leased? Let us hope that this valuable commercial premises in the heart of the village attracts another business, which will bring in further employment.

Woodland & Wildlife

Sedgefield Development Trust was born in the year 2000 with a mission to “improve, energise & regenerate the community of Sedgefield & surrounding area by undertaking projects & managing programmes directly or with other groups & organisations, that will contribute to the improvement of the economic, social, environmental & cultural quality of the life of residents, those who work in & around the town or are visitors to it.”

After a survey of residents, one of the Trust’s earliest projects was Sedgefield News. Some were fairly short-lived, like the remarkable First Responders, which served for as long as the Ambulance Service needed it; IT training, Digital Photography and the Youth Drop In were early successes. Others are enjoying a long life, like Sedgefield Energy Switch, DIDO, the revived Farmers’ Market, Sew Easy and the user-friendly website, SedgefieldWeb. The Bees at Hardwick are thriving and in the last month, we have seen Homework Help make a start.

All of these ideas came from imaginative people in this vibrant community, proving that it’s always worth asking the question, and that’s exactly what took place a couple of years ago. As a result of someone asking the right question, Sedgefield Development Trust is proud to announce its latest project: Woodland & Wildlife. A patch of ground is about to come to life! SDT hopes it will be a joy to volunteers and users for many years, and a small contribution to greening our part of the world. Would you like to get to be involved?

Gunner John Marshall

On December 27th, Sedgefield residents took time out of their Christmas celebrations for the final World War I commemoration of 2017 (Photo below). Gunner John Marshall served with 20th Trench Mortar Battery (Royal Garrison Artillery), rising to the rank of corporal before his death on Boxing Day 1917. His niece Lynn and nephews Neville and John, namesake of his uncle, were very moved by the brief ceremony, also attended by John’s wife Ann. Photos and notes from the day were forwarded to their sister Noreen in New Zealand.

Born in Sedgefield in 1893, John Marshall was the middle child of a family of seven. The youngest Alfred, known as Turl, father of Lynn, John, Neville, and Noreen was just 3 years old when his brother John enlisted in November 1914. His regiment would have been in the thick of battle, armed with heavy, large calibre guns and howitzers, wielding immense destructive power. After three days home leave in August 1917, boarding the train to return to the front, prophetically he told his mother, “You won’t see me again”. A few months later, on December 26th, John Marshall died, aged 24 in a hospital in Boulogne on the French coast. He is remembered at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery and on Sedgefield War Memorial, where family and friends gathered in his honour on a chilly December morning 100 years on.

Sedgefield LHS and the Village Veterans will be holding commemorations during most months of 2018, meeting at 10.45 am at the war memorial for a brief ceremony of about 15 minutes. Everyone is welcome. Please look out for details on posters around the village and on Sedgefield News diary page.

Successful Start Up at Sedgefield Primary Nursery

Sedgefield Primary opened its doors to three year-olds from last September and the new Pre-School Nursery is a huge hit with both parents and children. Parents are delighted with how quickly their children have settled; how much they enjoy nursery ; and the progress they have made in just a term. One of the Nursery parents said, “The Nursery is an amazing place. My son loves it. He is learning so much and hates not being there.”

The Nursery was over-subscribed for its launch, but is now taking names for September 2018. The school, which in November was judged to be the 132nd Best Primary School in England in the Sunday Time Best 250 Primary Schools List, also had a very successful Ofsted Inspection before Christmas.

Headteacher, Andrea Cox would be delighted to show interested parents around the Nursery and School. Call 01740 620359 or

Fashion Trends For 2018

The festive period is over, so it’s back to normality. During the dark winter days it is nice to think about adding some colour into our life. According to the Pantone Colour Institute, the colour of the year for 2018 is “ultra violet”. A colour that is “dramatically provocative and thoughtful”. So, what are your thoughts, given we are living in a time that requires originality and imagination.

Will you embrace the colour of the year? Enigmatic purple has long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality and artistic brilliance. Musical icons like Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of violet to the forefront of the music scene as personal expressions of individuality and there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to a colour often associated with mindfulness practices.

So how do you wear it, this colour created by combined red and blue? Well, it’s easy to pair with all colours of the spectrum. With striking golds and other metallic shades it becomes luxurious and dazzling or with green and greys it evokes natural elegance. Will you embrace “ultra violet” this season and start to define your new 2018 wardrobe? Elena Degnan

Meeting the Police Interceptors

Police Interceptors have helped raise more than £9,300 in memory of their colleague PC Gavin Smith. The money was raised at an afternoon tea event in aid of Butterwick Hospice which 350 fans attended on January 2nd. PC Gavin Smith who died of cancer in February 2017, had been with Durham Constabulary for 12 years and worked with the Roads Policing Unit at Spennymoor station. He was also a star of the show Police Interceptors on Channel 5.

Gavin Smith’s widow, Kezi Smith and their daughter Tilly attended the event. Kezi said: “It was a real comfort to us after Christmas, when we all missed Gav terribly. A great way to start the new year. The Interceptors did Gav proud and it was fantastic to see them joining in the spirit of things, even auctioning themselves off to raise extra cash. I am really thankful to all those involved as their effort was evident throughout. Butterwick Hospice is such as a well-deserving charity.’

PCSO Lisa Hall who organised the event held at Hardwick Hall, said: ‘It was amazing and the amount raised blew me away. It took a lot of hard work but it was certainly worth it in the end. Everyone loved meeting the guys and they did a great job at interacting with guests, both young and old. The feedback has been great. I even shed a tear at the end. I never met Gav personally but after hearing colleagues speak of him and knowing how well thought of he was, I just wanted to do my bit to help. I would like to thank the residents of Sedgefield, and businesses within the Sedgefield and surrounding areas who contributed raffle prizes and donations, in particular Sainsburys, Chic Hair Studio and Tickety Boo for their extremely generous donations!’