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We look forward to welcoming you to Woodland Skills Centre
Newsletter August 2018
Courses Courses have been going well and several of our new courses, such as the Bushcraft courses and Knife forging, have been fully booked.
Stockport Scouts We had an interesting weekend when 8 Scout Leaders came for the Saturday and had an advanced Bushcraft Skills day and then their Cubs came on the Sunday and the Leaders put their new skills into practice.
City Farms and Community Gardens We hosted a regional meeting and Skills Share day earlier in the year and since then have been acting as Mentor for the Garth Hillside Community Garden in Glyn Ceiriog who want to develop programmes like ours.
Liverpool University Department of Architecture We had our second project with the Department in May. The students designed a garden building for a private client in Bodfari and we advised in the design, sourced all the timber and managed the construction over the weekend. The students camped at the Centre and had use of our facilities.
TRAC This is a programme to offer education other than at school for pupils who have been excluded from school, are very disruptive or who refuse to go to school. We have been running 6 programmes all of which have gone very well. They are demanding on our staff and require a high staffing ratio but attendance has been good and we anticipate further programmes from September.
Live in the Woods Our monthly live music events are going well. We are doing this as part of our mission to make the woods a place of enjoyment. We have been pleased to welcome several of our neighbours to the events.
Bee Friendly we have been awarded Bee Friendly status by the Welsh Government. We are developing our apiary with the assistance of two experienced local bee-keepers and hope to develop the apiary into a demonstration site.
Barnardo’s We are collaborating with Barnardo’s to run holiday activities for children with significant special needs.
Prestatyn Town Council During August we will be running 3 days at the Centre, on behalf of the Council, working with families with children with autism and other conditions.
AONB We have hosted 2 meetings for the AONB – one for the staff and one for the panel who deal with applications to the Sustainable Development Fund. They were pleased to see the 2 buildings both of which they gave grants for.
Flintshire Social Services We have run 2 days for the staff. One was craft courses as part of their annual team day and one was at our Centre when we ran a team day in the woods.
Community Support This is the programme for adults with complex disabilities that we deliver for 2 days a week on behalf of Denbighshire Social Services. The current contract runs till 2020 and we have just had our annual review when we were told that SS were very pleased with the programme. The whole area of support for adults with special needs is changing with a move away from central commissioning to giving individuals control over their own budgets and deciding what services they wish to have. This will have implications for us. It is probable that we will have a higher level of demand and we will need to manage this to ensure that the groups we have do not have too wide a range of needs. We are working with Social Services to look at offering an additional day for young adults with autism who have come to the end of supported education and lack further provision. One of the consequences of the changes is that DCC’s central provision of transport is likely to end and individuals will have to make their own arrangements. We need to plan for this and consider whether we provide our own transport.
Rhyl Women’s Centre We are in discussion with the Centre about ways in which we can support their work both with the adults and also with families.
Minister for the Environment Hannah Blyddyn is to visit the Centre. Her primary reason is to look at how the Sustainable Development Fund money has been used but she is also interested to find out about the work of the Centre and it will be an opportunity for us to try to get the Welsh Government to support the establishment of Centres such as ours throughout Wales.
Wildflower Verges We have been awarded some short-term funding by DCC to play a central role in the new project and DCC is looking for long-term funding. Our role will be to receive seeds collected from sites in the area and grow them for distribution to local groups.
Volunteers We are continuing with our Monday Volunteer Day. We have a small regular group but could do with some more volunteers. The group undertakes work in the woods and around the site which is beyond the capability of our service user groups.
St Kentigern’s We hosted a Family Day in the Woods for St Kentigern’s Hospice.
Mindfulness in the Woods We have been running a series of courses with each session lasting for 3 hours, starting indoors and then moving out into the woods before returning to the Centre for a shared simple meal.
RHS We have attended two RHS shows again this year – Chatsworth and Tatton. These shows involve significant input from our staff but do promote the Centre to a large number of people and result in course bookings and other work.
Visits We continue to visit various local community groups to give a presentation about the work of the Centre and also welcome community groups who visit the Centre.
Newsletter April 2018
Denbighshire Tourism Ambassadors visited us on 25 January to learn about the work of the Centre and activities we offer that would be of interest to visitors to the area.
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens held their spring meeting at the Centre on 17 February and were shown round the site and attended various workshop sessions.
We ran a day of craft workshops for staff from Flintshire Social Services in Greenfield Valley on 8 March as part of their team day.
The AONB and Countryside Services teams had a day long meeting at the Centre on 19 April. They had the opportunity to learn about our work and Howard Sutcliffe formally opened the new building.
Current Social Forestry programmes
TRAC Since January we have been involved in the TRAC programme with a small group of 15-16 year old boys from Rhyl who are not able to follow the usual school prgramme due to learning and behavioural issues. It is an interesting experience for us but worthwhile if we can help the boys to gain some self-confidence and positive purpose in their lives.
Pupil Inclusion We have a local 16 year old boy coming to us 3 days a week. He has various problems and is on the autistic spectrum and has refused to attend school for the last year. He works with our volunteers on Mondays, Community Support on Wednesdays and one-to-one with a member of our staff on Fridays. The placement seems to be very beneficial for him.
Options Autism We are working with a young man who is autistic and is in permanent residential care in a home near Holywell. He comes to us one day a fortnight with a support worker and enjoys the experience.
MIND We have just completed another 8 week programme with a group of adults who have been referred to North-East Wales MIND by local mental health teams. They came for one day a week and completed a certfifcated course in Coppice Products. Attendance was very good.
Our new building is complete and is used regularly. We have landscaped the area outside to make a lawn which looks out over the orchard area. The landscaping was carried out by our Monday Volunteer Group and the Community Support groups.
This has established well and needed pruning. We took the opportunity to run 2 courses to do the work. In the morning the students did a pruning course with Iwan Edwards of the North Wales Wildlife Trust and labelled and saved the prunings. In the afternoon John Purchase of Coed Cymru ran a grafting course where the students learned how to graft the material we had pruned in the morning onto appropriate rootstocks. The students each took home 3 new trees which has helped to increase the number of examples of each of the varieties.
Monday Volunteer Group
We continue to run a volunteer group on Mondays. The members are a mixture of retired and unemployed people with a few who have a range of difficulties in their lives and welcome the social experience and the opportunity to do productive work outdoors. The group are able to undertake jobs that need doing which are beyond the capability of our Social Forestry groups.
Live Music in the Woods
We have had music and drama events in the woods in the past but are trying to build up a more regular programme. We are very conscious of the need not to cause any disturbance to neighbours so we limit the number of cars to the parking spaces we have, encourage car sharing by charging per car rather than per person, have an absolute maximum of 60 people, have acoustic music with no amplification and the evening sessions end by 9.00. The first session was on the evining of Friday 6 April outside Canolfan 2 and was a great success. The next event will be in the woods on the afternoon of Sunday 20 May and is already sold out.
Last weekend we had a successful Family Weekend in the Woods. It included 2 families from north-west Wales who camped with us and 3 local families. The children’s ages ranged from 1 to 8 and their first languages were Welsh, English and Polish. One of the children is paralised from the waist and in a wheelchair and we were delighted to welcome her and her parents. We need to make sure we can include as wide a range of people as possible.
We are hosting a fund-raising Family Day on Saturday 30 June when people are invited to bring a picnic and have guided walks through the woods with the chance to do some craftwork. We are donating the use of the site and our time to the Charity.
Talks to outside groups
As well as welcoming groups to the Centre, we go out to talk about the Centre to various local groups. Recently we visited Landulas WI, Llanrhaeadr WI, Gellifor Open Circle and Hafal.
Mindfulness in the Woods
We continue to run a range of Mindfulness in the Woods sessions. We keep the cost as low as possible and charge £15 for a half day session which includes a simple meal at the end. We believe it is a valuable addition to our programme and will continue to try to develop it.
***** Launch of new course ‘Mindfulness in the Woods *****
There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about the benefits of Mindfulness on mental health and wellbeing.
A very interesting interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) was published in the Guardian:
Woodland Skills Centre has supported health and wellbeing for many years in their provision of Social Forestry Level3 OCN courses but also through the work with the various special needs groups that visit the Centre on a regular basis.
As an extension of our programme we are excited to now run this new course:
Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting course
Come and experience mindfulness in the award-winning 50 acre Warren Woods.
We currently offer sessions as an introduction to Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting that are suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who either already practises mindfulness or wants to explore the benefits of mindfulness in nature.
The aim of the session is to become aware of the small changes in the physical sensations in your body, your thoughts, moods and emotions and what is happening in the world around you.
Some of the benefits of practising mindfulness include:
General happiness and contentment – Greater harmony in relationships – Enhanced insight and clarity – Improved analytical skills – Increased curiosity, openness and acceptance – Reduction in anxiety, depression and stress – Improved memory and concentration – Enhanced ability to deal with illness and to manage pain – Reduced risk of heart problems – Improved immune system responses.
The sessions will take place in the beautiful tranquil woodland where we will experience nature at its best. In case of inclement weather we will have the use of one of the timber-framed Centre buildings heated by a wood-burner stove.
The sessions will be led by Sabine Soosten, a Level 3 qualified ‘Mindfulness in Woodland’ practitioner.
Cost £15 including a simple vegetarian meal
For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the session leader, Sabine Soosten, on 01745 710626
The regular Volunteer day takes place every Monday from 10.00 till 3.00 to look after our 50 acre site – woodlands, tree nursery, arboretum, heritage orchard, wildflower meadow, vineyard, Forest School sites.
Volunteers work with one of our staff who ensures that full training is given. You will learn about our woodlands and what lives in them, a range of woodland management skills, habitat creation and wildlife monitoring.
If the weather is bad we have the use of our large workshops and make products from material we harvest from the woods.
We provide tea, coffee and biscuits and we have the use of one of our heated timber frame buildings. Just bring a packed lunch and suitable outdoor clothing and we will take care of the rest.
If you are interested in this opportunity please contact us by email email@example.com or phone 01745 710626.
Mindfulness in the Woods course
I have attended two Mindfulness courses at the centre and absolutely loved them both. I was a little nervous at first but was made to feel extremely welcome. The courses were fantastic and I loved every minute of them. Being quite a anxious person the course has provided me with the skills, knowledge and the desire to practice mindfulness daily and it is now part of my life. I would go as far as to say that the course is life-changing and extremely beneficial to my wellbeing. The surroundings are beautiful and I am looking forward to attending again soon to further develop my skills and practice. That you so much Sabine for sharing your knowledge with me, the impact has been profound. If you are interested in the mindfulness course, I would advise you to take the leap of faith and book, you won’t regret it!
Rebecca, July 2018
Live in the Woods
‘what a wonderful night on Friday at Garry’s concert, I loved every minute of it, such a beautiful way of combining music in a natural setting well done.’ (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
John, April 2018
‘Just a note to say a big Thankyou for a great evening last Friday. Phil and I and friends Kathy and John really enjoyed it and hope to be able to come to the next one! Weren’t we lucky with the weather too! You must be very pleased that it was such a success……..worth all the hard work getting ready.’ (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
Mel & Phil, April 2018
Kids Holiday Club
My girls Sofia and freya would like to thank you after an amazing two days with you . They are genuinely sad it’s come to an end and I would highly recommend you to any parents wanting to encourage kids off gagets and engage with nature.
Diana, February 2018
Bowl Turning on a Pole-lathe course
Just wanted to say thanks again for another superb course at the WSC. Really enjoyable and a great learning environment. Thanks also to you and the team for making me feel welcome. Hope to see you soon.
Martin, October 2017
Tool Sharpening Course
I did a tool sharpening course, one day, with Doug. I found it extremely helpful. Obviously you’re not going to become an expert in a day, but you can bring your own tools and the course is designed to help you learn what sharpening skills are most useful for you. By the end of the day I felt much more competent and had a clearer idea how to look after my wood carving tools. Doug was a patient and well informed instructor and there was only four of us in the group so you get plenty of one on one time. Sharpening is crucial for anyone learning to carve so I’d definitely recommend this.
Eadon, May 2017
Review from a regular visitor
Superbly well kitted out centre with campsite, green woodworking centre, examples of carbon neutral building and well managed diverse woodland. A well curated set of courses and workshops keep our family coming back for more!
David, May 2017
I just wanted to thank you once more for a fantastic day yesterday. Everyone on the course enjoyed themselves, and really appreciated every aspect of the course.
Llangollen Community Garden – September 2014
I just wanted to send you a quick email to say Thank You. We has a wonderful time at the Bushcraft Course and I just wanted to say thanks for running a great centre and doing a great course!
Victoria – August 2014
We all had a great time yesterday so thank you for making it so engaging and interesting. Please also pass on our thanks to Alan and Helen who were brilliant. We will definitely book another course and will have a browse of the brochure and website.
Kind Regards, Lisa Williams
Kind regards, Nikki
Nicola Cole, Instructor/Work Preparation Advisor
I would like to repeat my thanks for the wonderful setting and facilities which you provided for my birthday party last Saturday.
Everybody had an extremely good time – my 5 year-old grandson is already planning a repeat performance for his birthday. It will be difficult to think of anything as good for future birthdays so I am likely to come again, too.
Best Regards Stella Bennett – April 2013
Next morning, we set off for the Woodland Craft Centre in Bodfari (woodlandskillscentre.co.uk, adults £35, children £10).
Rod Waterfield manages this beautiful 50 acres of woodland with his two children, Helen and Alan. The woods are open to walkers for free, but they also run a programme of courses in woodland skills and traditional crafts. You can learn to build a coracle, weave a basket or make a rustic stool.
There’s also a school holiday club and adventure days and weekends for families, including free camping. They can even host woodland birthday parties. In our sometimes over-protective culture, giving a child the chance to run wild in the woods is an opportunity not to be missed.
The Woodland Skills Centre has a fantastic approach – they take safety really seriously but don’t wrap children in cotton wool. Our two were thrilled to use proper wood knives with gleaming blades and chunky homemade hammers to split kindling and to be taught how to light fires without matches. All of it was done within framework of very clear, sensible rules. So the way the knife and mallet were held meant accidental slips weren’t possible.
Before learning how to forage for firewood, to lay a fire and use a magnesium fire starter and dried birch bark to coax it to life, the children first learned the important safety rules for treating fire with respect, how to sit and move round a fire and how to make sure it’s properly extinguished. We gathered round the outdoor fire pit for lunch – a pan of sizzling sausages cooked over the open fire with plenty of bread and salad, washed down with hot drinks made using the immense kettle suspended from a tripod above the fire.
We finished off with an American campfire delicacy: marshmallows toasted over the fire and sandwiched between two chocolate digestives. These go by the name of “s’mores”, so the story goes, because that’s how you sound when you inevitably ask for “some more” while your mouth’s still full.
Thank you so much for the Birthday Party for Polly on Saturday. The girls all had a really fantastic time in the woods. All of the feedback I have had has been positive and the parents are all very impressed with the different type of birthday party!!
Janette Nevin – March 2012
‘A Sense of Place – Winter’ – Mindfulness, Art and Poetry (January 2019)£45.00
Bushcraft through the Seasons – Spring (March 2019)£140.00
Home Chainsaw (February 2019)£140.00
Make a Rustic Chair (January 2019)£120.00
Making & Fitting new Handles to Tools (March 2019)£50.00
Plan a Medicinal Herb Garden (April 2019)£50.00
Split Hazel Baskets (March 2019)£120.00
Timber Frame Building (May 2019)£300.00