Season’s Greetings from the Trustees
If you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is coming … and fast! We hope you are looking forward to this time of rest and renewal, of joyful celebration and spending time with friends and family. On behalf of all our Trustees, may we be amongst the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas!
As is customary with newsletters issued at this time of year, we would like to take this opportunity to both look back over the past twelve months and look forward over the next twelve. But first, and perhaps most importantly, we would like to offer our very sincere thanks to the staff and volunteers of Monkton Nature Reserve for getting us to the encouraging position we are in today.
We firmly believe that we may have ‘turned the corner’ regarding our fortunes at the Reserve and are achieving the growth, particularly financially, that we have striven for, for so long; and this is all due to the determined efforts and dedication of our fantastic staff and volunteers. Achieving financial self-sufficiency is now becoming a realistic expectation, enabling us to survive and maintain the Reserve without reliance on external funders, who have been so important to us in the past. This has been one of our long-standing intentions, which supports our number one aim: to preserve the Reserve for existing communities and future generations.
But we are not out of the woods just yet and are likely to need some financial support towards our core costs for a few years to come. This is especially so for our Education Officer position, which now exists as a separate “funding stream”, enabling it to be managed separately to our normal business activities.
The past twelve months have seen us build on strong foundations, again put in place by our staff and volunteers. Our education outreach has expanded such that local (and some not-so-local) schools now know about our facilities and include regular visits in their term plans. We have been able to expand on the facilities offered to visitors, in particular the refreshments available in The Cabin Café. And most encouraging, we have benefited from a tremendous increase in footfall (possibly over 10,000 this year) and Memberships (already exceeding 1,100!).
Driven by these heartening developments, we have developed a mind-set of “continuous improvement” at the Reserve, seeking to build on what we already have. Benefiting not just from having more volunteers, but those with much-needed skills, we have been able to tackle some of the long-outstanding tasks and projects waiting on our (very long) list. We are also able to ‘raise our game’ and be more professional organisationally, putting in place systems and procedures to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors, and better control our operations. We are now starting to look like a ‘proper business’!
Exciting times are ahead, and we feel we are fit and capable as a team to grow The Trust and expand the appeal of the Reserve as we enter the new calendar year.
That just leaves us to say a final few words … Happy New Year for 2019!
Andrew Ogden, 11/11/2018