A class of year six pupils from Workington’s Ashfield Junior School helped lead the grand opening ceremony on Tuesday 7 May for a new nature hide at Siddick Ponds.
Named by one of the children as the “HUB” – or “Hide for Unbelievable Birds” – the hide provides a place to learn about and view the nature reserve’s wildlife.
The hide has also been dedicated to former mayor and councillor for Workington Town Council, Allerdale councillor and chairman of the Friends of Siddick Ponds, Bill Bacon who died in 2016. A memorial plaque was unveiled by Mr Bacon’s wife, Valerie.
The children have been working with officers from Workington Nature Partnership to devise interactive activities for visitors to the hide, and it was the first time that they got to see their work on display.
The hide also provides information on the wildlife which can be seen at Siddick Ponds particularly its breeding and migrating wetland birds, as well as stoats, foxes, otters, bats and even the occasional osprey from nearby Bassenthwaite. Armed with binoculars the children were able to see what wildlife they could spot.
Speaking at the opening, Valerie Bacon, said: “It is a real honour to be able to unveil this plaque. Bill was so dedicated to this place and devoted so much time towards it.”
Michael Heaslip, Allerdale Borough Council Executive member with responsibility for environmental quality, said: “This is a fantastic nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is so important it is preserved. Only recently, the United Nations warned of the threat to biodiversity in the world particularly wetlands like Siddick Ponds. Therefore it is vital that we secure it for future generations.”
Raegan Blacker, Workington Nature Partnership Officer, added: “It’s so important to engage children in nature projects like this. When we first started this initiative, no one from the class had been to Siddick Ponds. However, just a few days after we started, many had been back with their parents. If young people get to find out about nature, they will help protect it.”
Year six teacher, Caroline Gibson, echoed these views: “The children have been very keen to come and see the work they’ve been part of. It’s also been great for them to be able to see what is available to them here in Workington, and be part of a community project like this.”
The initiative has been funded in part by Allerdale Borough Council and Workington Town Council with money also from Iggesund, the Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Fund via the Cumbria Community Foundation, Wythegill Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, and Tesco Bags of Help.
The hide is open to the public and anyone wishing to make use of it can park in the visitor parking at the Iggesund plant, and ask for a key from the nearby gatehouse. For more information on Siddick Ponds, go to: https://siddickponds.co.uk/