In March 1998, when two fields on the edge of our village were put up for sale by a local farmer, volunteers from the Derrington Countryside Group, (a group of volunteers who had been working on countryside activities in and around Derrington since 1992) decided to see if there was any way they could raise the funds to purchase one or both of the fields.
Their first point of call was to seek advice from the Community Council of Staffordshire, where they talked to Andy Halden and Bevan Craddock, and were told that up until now there had not been any grants available to purchase land, but there were a couple of projects that had just been released to celebrate the forthcoming millennium in 2000, which might be of interest.
How we Started and Evolved
The Countryside Agency was looking to create 200 new community Millennium Greens under their ‘Breathing Spaces’ initiative and the Woodland Trust were looking to create 250 new woodlands, under their ‘Woods on your Doorstep’ initiative!
The group, under the guidance of the Community Council, made contact with both organisations and after many meetings and discussions, it was decided that a unique joint project to obtain both fields was conceivable, and so with the blessing of the farmer and on the trust of a handshake, he gave us 12 months to try and raise the money, a massive fundraising campaign was launched, which was coordinated and administered by the Woodland Trust.
There was of course some initial scepticism amongst many people that this sizable task could not be achieved, but as this unique joint project developed, and the vigorous fundraising campaign gained momentum, more and more people and organisations pledged their support. The end result was that we raised a staggering £220,000 which enabled the purchase of all the land and the creation of bot incredible projects!
The larger 23.5 acre field was transformed into a new woodland with over 14000 trees planted (6000 by volunteers and the rest by contractors). This area is now called Duddas Wood and is owned, managed and maintained by the Woodland Trust.
The smaller 11.5 acre field was transformed into Derrington Millennium Green, and whilst contractors were initially employed to enlarge the pond, construct the hardstanding paths and new entrances, volunteers planted every shrub and tree, created the wildflower meadows and herb garden, plus they built the tool store.
Although it took every day of the twelve months we had been given to raise the funds, plus an exhausting amount of time and hard work, we never stopped believing we could succeed.
Derrington Millennium Green is now held in Trust, as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Registered Charity 1179302. It is managed by The Trustees, supported by public donations and maintained by volunteers.
H.R.H Princess Anne officially opening Derrington Millennium Green and Duddas Wood in Nov 2000 (Please note: this is not a Royal Endorsement of the project)