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Heyford Meadow beauty spot in line for award
Buy this photo » Volunteers from the Four Pillars Hotel, left to right, Valentina and Petre Manolache, Bianca Szarvadi, Andrei Poor, Andrei Mihalachi and Clive Shorter, make their way along the boardwalk at Heyford Meadow
OLD tractors, boats and railway carriages were among 250 tonnes of rubbish that littered a water meadow four years ago.
But after 30 months of clearance work and more than £80,000, the hard work by the Oxford Preservation Trust at Heyford Meadow is paying off.
The transformed beauty spot has now been shortlisted for a top award.
The 11-acre water meadow in Sandford-on-Thames is in the running for a Canal and River Trust Waterways Renaissance Award 2013.
Debbie Dance, trust director, said: “This is one of my favourite places. It is easy to forget what a tip it was when you see it today.
“Even in the depths of winter we could reach the river using the boardwalk we built for just that purpose, so it works.
“There’s lots of wildlife, a lovely boardwalk and benches.
“It is really special and right by the river, it looks fantastic.”
Seven years ago former owner John Tate left the the water meadow to Oxford Preservation Trust in his will and the trust had to raise the money for the clearing work before it could begin.
The trust then began the work in 2009 and the site opened to the public in spring 2011.
The clearance was supported by £30,000 of funding from the Four Pillars Hotel Group, Million Pounds Project, Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment and WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Limited).
It is now open to visitors 24 hours a day and the site’s maintenance is supported by staff from the Four Pillars Hotel, who volunteer their time.
Volunteer Clive Shorter, 48, staff accommodation manager at the hotel, said: “We are really pleased the meadow has been nominated and it has been really good for the staff to be involved in the project. “The clearance work was done mainly by contractors, but the staff volunteers were involved in planting saplings, digging ponds and maintence work.”
The trust expects to find out whether Heyford Meadow has won the award next month.
Mrs Dance said: “It is absolutely fantastic because it’s the first time we have done this.
“Firstly it is recognition for all the volunteers and it raises the profile of it so more people can enjoy it. We have to compete with other sites across the UK.
“But we deserve to win, Oxford deserves to win.”
- For information on the awards, visit canalrivertrust.org.uk/ waterways-renaissance-awards