The Friends of Charnwood Forest

25 years and Still Going Strong

"Charnwood Forest must be preserved at all costs". That was the urgent message of the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Colonel Andrew Martin, when he addressed a crowded meeting on 8th April 1986 at Oaks in Charnwood village hall. Over 80 local conservation enthusiasts had gathered at Oaks in Charnwood with a common aim of forming a new group to protect the environment and woodlands. They decided to call their group "The Friends of Charnwood Forest".

Priorities of this non political society were stated to include making representations to, and working alongside, bodies concerned with the Forest, the aims being to seek to protect by all legitimate means the natural beauty and amenities of Charnwood Forest for future generations.

The Society elected Col Martin as President, George Farnham as Vice President, Peter Bertram as Chairman, David Thorpe as Secretary, John Heathcote Ball as Treasurer and Mrs Margaret Martin as vice Chairman. a formidable group.

Reading through the Society archives it is apparent that the pent up feeling of the members was evident as Secretary David Thorpe worked up a head of steam. First on the list in April 1986 was opposition to a third even larger, and taller, telecommunications mast at Copt Oak, quickly followed by opposition to ARC's plans to extend and link up the quarries at Bradgate and Groby. Both were defeated.

Many of you may recall that in 1988 several large old trees on the Top Green in Anstey were felled due to their diseased state. On the 17th February members of the Friends of Charnwood Forest planted an avenue of Canadian Red Oaks which once established should live for around 180 years. The members undertook to plant and water these new trees as required throughout the summer. Look out for their yellow leaves this spring as you drive along Bradgate Road in Anstey, and their even more impressive red leaves in autumn.

The Society has been active over 25 years helping to preserve the Charnwood Forest that you see today. Our largest ever fund raising was in 1994 to help purchase eleven acres off Deans Lane which was subsequently given to The Woodlands Trust to administer as a public open space. This area was named Martin's Wood after Sir Andrew Martin, our first President.

The Society keeps true to its aims as threats never disappear. Today housing developments are encroaching ever nearer to the Forest, and Aggregate Industries have submitted a planning application for a new super quarry at Rise Rocks to link up to Bardon Hill quarry, the third application on this site.

On a more optimistic note the prospect of a Charnwood Forest Regional Park being created by the end of 2011 gives us hope that extra safeguards over planning and wildlife maybe implemented*.

The Society is still thriving 25 years on. The members enjoy and actively support the programme of events designed to be informative, and social, with talks and outside visits.

To know more about The Friends of Charnwood Forest, or to join and support our Society please complete the Membership Application Form. The stronger our membership, the stronger is our voice in preserving our local environment.

Dick Howard, Chairman

April 2011.

01530 245373


*Since this was written the Charnwood Forest Regional Park has been established.

Friends of Charnwood Forest is a voluntary society run by a Committee which is elected each year at the AGM. Here is its constitution which has been unchanged since the Society's formation.