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Steve’s Nature Diary

I was up this morning at 5.30am and out of the house, ready to start my British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). This is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common breeding birds. It is a national volunteer project aimed at keeping track of changes in the breeding populations of widespread bird species in the UK. Volunteers all round the country are making two visits to their chosen 1 Km square to count the birds present and then enter their data online.

My square was on farmland near Sedgefield and I had to walk along a transect noting down the birds I heard and saw as I went along. It must be said that my first issue was, although I was on public footpaths and they were way-marked in places, some of them had crops planted right up to the edge or I had to fight my way through undergrowth to get through sections. Luckily I had a map or I would have lost my way in several sections. This means that visitors to Sedgefield and its environs would really struggle to use these paths as well. Other than this I had a very pleasant morning and saw and heard a few birds including Hedge Sparrow, Whitethroat, Blackcap and others that are typical to this habitat. I was really pleased to see and hear several skylarks doing their aerial flight display, yellowhammers with their distinctive “Little bit of bread and no cheeeeese” song and the chirping of tree sparrows which must be nesting in some of the larger trees in amongst the hedges. Another highlight was a Buzzard which was being mobbed by crows. All in all, not a bad count.

I think if I had done this walk fifty years ago things would have very been different, and I may have come across birds like Corn Bunting, Cuckoo, Grey Partridge and Turtle Dove. Some older residents may be able to tell me whether this is true or not. These birds, along with twenty-four others, according to the 2017 report, show a long-term statistically significant trend of greater than 50% population declines over periods of 31–48 years. Research has shown that often declines in farmland bird species are associated with more than one factor impacting on a species simultaneously. The main factors driving declines since 1970 are: loss of mixed farming; increased use and efficacy of pesticides; changes in crops grown; changes in grassland management; field drainage; predation; weather and migration issues. With over 70% of the UK’s land farmed in some way, how this land is managed has a big impact on wildlife. The Wildlife Trusts produced a report “What next for farming” with recommendations for a future agriculture policy after the UK leaves the EU. It was published in January 2018 and you can download it at

Wild bird populations are an important indicator of the health of the countryside and knowing to what extent bird populations are increasing or decreasing is fundamental to bird conservation. So if you would like to get involved in doing the BBS survey next year, visit

Banking in Sedgefield

There has been much critical comment about the loss of local banking services since Barclays closed in May. Businesses and individuals are inconvenienced by it and for some people, dealing with everyday financial transactions is hard. Sedgefield Development Trust is still prepared to contribute to an initiative to bring banking facilities back to Sedgefield, in co-operation with the North East First Credit Union and others.

To do this, we would need to bring volunteers on board, from this community, who have banking and other relevant experience. In at least one case, that experience would have to be at a senior level. The Trust is still willing to pursue the idea. If other bodies and volunteers wish to talk to us about it, the person to contact is Mike Ashwell. Call him on 07843 229 357 or email

Independants Awards 2018

Elena Degnan is delighted to announce that Jayne Fashions ltd has been shortlisted in the Local Champion in the Drapers Independents Awards 2018.

The shortlist is made up from the top 20 small independent retailers chosen from over 4200 entries. Drapers Independents Awards celebrate the most influential brands and highly respected independent retailers and reward those businesses that are changing the landscape of fashion. The fashion industry’s best independents provide inspiration on so many levels. Offering some of the best customer service in the fashion industry, they know how to keep their customers happy – and keep them coming back. Elena was chosen because she really understands her customers’ lifestyles and interests and combined with her fundraising activities for Amy Stockhill and the Sir Bobby Robson foundation (to name but a few) plus local community support and the organisation and management of special social events, plus doing home visits to support people with mobility issues giving colour and style consultation. This year the quality of entries was better than ever, so being shortlisted is a great achievement, congratulations!

The Drapers Independents Awards Luncheon take place on Wednesday 12th September, so pop in to Jayne Fashions and wish Elena good luck.

Wheels to Work County Durham

A moped-loan scheme aims to help people access employment, training or education that would otherwise be inaccessible due to poor public transport connections or out-of-hour work patterns. The project has been set up in response to a growing need to help local people get to work or college. The idea is to provide a loan of a moped for 6 months to help people to establish themselves in work and/or training, making people more employable by helping them to be mobile and independent.

Mopeds of either 50cc or 125cc are available to people aged 16+, as long as they have a provisional or full driving licence. The cost is £25 per week for a 50cc and £30 per week for a 125cc moped. Riders are provided with brand new protective clothing (helmet, armoured jacket, gloves, waterproof over-trousers and high visibility vest) and a heavy duty lock, and are also covered for bike insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, as well as regular servicing of the moped. There may be a chance to buy the moped from the scheme at the end of the loan period.

Motorcycle training is included as part of the scheme, provided by Ace Motorcycles in Pity Me, Durham. A full day’s Compulsory Basic Training is followed by a 2 hour CBT plus session on a separate day, when clients are provided with additional road time and issued with their clothing and bike. Please pass on this information to anyone who experiences difficulties getting to work. Our contact details are 0191 303 8442, Mobile 07460 068668, Email,, or via Facebook.

We're waiting for your call! Wheels 2 Work County Durham is supported by the North East Combined Authority, Durham County Council, Durham Area Action Partnerships, Virgin Money Foundation and the County Durham Community Foundation.

Let’s be blooming good again!

Northumbria in Bloom judges Dot Patterson, Ann Burns and Tony Ewin return to Sedgefield on Thursday July 19th for the all-important summer judging. They arrive at 10am for a brief Powerpoint presentation in Ceddesfeld Hall, outlining the work of the Bloomers and council gardeners Stephen Young and Ben Gray over the preceding months. Then off for a walking tour of the centre of Sedgefield, followed by a driven tour taking in more outlying spots such as the racecourse and Hardwick Hall. Please feel free to say hello if you see them them out and about with Bloom representatives.

Residents and business premises can help to maintain our impressively high standard by making sure your premises are tidy, free of litter, weeds and cigarette ends. Tubs, hanging baskets and other floral decorations are always a bonus. We have been very impressed this year, particularly by the efforts of new businesses opening up in the village, as well as existing traders who can always be relied on to put on a good show. As ever, community support has been outstanding, with generous sponsorship and support from a wide range of organisations, including younger residents. Let’s all pull together to bring Gold to Sedgefield once again! Norma Neal

A day of smiles as Ann says “goodbye” to library life

There were happy scenes in Sedgefield Library when friends, colleagues and many of the readers who had benefitted from Ann Beamson’s enthusiasm and diligence over so many years, gathered to thank her and wish her a very happy retirement. She has sent a typically modest few words to say thank you. “I would like to thank everyone who gave me such an overwhelming send off, especially my colleague and friend, Katie Burkill, who organised everything to make my last days at work so memorable. Huge thanks for the many presents, best wishes and lots and lots of hugs! I will miss everyone, especially Katie and Denise, but I did have a wonderful library life. Ann.”

Be a Campanologist

Taming heavy metal above our head,
The loudest of instruments, waking the dead.
Skilled teamwork counts with pattern & skill,
A form of music, when together a thrill!
Learning takes time and training is given,
In just six months you’ll be into the rhythm.
As part of our Heritage, an ancient tale,
Ringing for the bride with her flowing veil.
For all our occasions, we get set,
Invisible up the tower, breaking sweat.
Religious or not, just get on our list,
To practice to be a Campanologist!
The Unknown Poet 2018
Campanology: the art and study of Bell Ringing. St Edmund's Tower Bell Ringers meet at the Church for practice, between 7.30 & 9pm most Thursdays. Just turn up for an introduction to campanology! We have six bells and need more ringers to maintain our community tradition.

WW1 commemorations

Sedgefield Local History Society and the Village Veterans were delighted to welcome family members to their latest World War I commemoration. Auriel Anderson (nee Banks) and her granddaughter Melanie laid a floral tribute to their grandfather and great great grandfather Edwin Banks.

A Lance Sergeant with the 1st/6th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, Edwin Banks lost his life in France on May 27th 1918, aged 36. Born in Sedgefield in 1882 to Bernard and Jane Banks, Edwin Banks began his working life as a house painter, later working at Durham County Asylum. He lived in East End with his wife Annice (nee Hallimond), who he married in 1904. In 1926, Annice’s younger sister Gertrude married Robert Cooper, marking the beginning of the Cooper dynasty at the Golden Lion. Edwin and Annice Banks had two sons – William Bernard, born in 1905 and Charles (Auriel’s father), two years younger. The boys would have been 13 and 11 when their father died. Edwin Banks is remembered on the Soissons Memorial in France, near the River Somme and on Winterton Memorial, now in St Edmund’s church.

The next commemoration is on Friday July 27 at 10.45 am at the war memorial, when we will remember William Henry Bungay of the 13th Battalion Green Howards. Family members or other interested parties are welcome to contact Norma Neal on 01740 620091 or email

The ABC of the RAF

Paul Heasman, former resident of Sedgefield, hopes to inspire the next generation of Royal Air Force personnel with his first published book. Pictured above with a Hawk T2 jet, Paul created the book to help his daughter to research a school project on the RAF centenary. With publication of “The ABC of the RAF” he hopes to inspire other children aroun 4 to 11 years.

Paul attended Sedgefield Primary School and Sedgefield Community College and was a member of Hartlepool Air Cadets. With a BSc in Physics from Loughborough University, he was commissioned into the RAF after graduating from RAF College Cranwell in 2000. He completed his fast jet flying training and carried out a frontline tour on the Tornado F3 at RAF Leeming. Paul was selected for instructional duties at RAF Valley in 2006 and was part of the team that introduced the Hawk T2 into RAF Service in 2009.
The ABC of the RAF costs £14.99 plus postage and packaging. Visit or email