Ciao Italy!

by ANTONY CLAY

Peter Ingham, president, and Margaret Young. 191488-1

IN the heart of South Yorkshire there is a part that is forever Italy!
Well, sort of.

In Tickhill, there is a society for people with a love of all things Italian and members meet up once a month to indulge their perfectly understandable passion.

What is there not to love about Italy? Sun, fashion style, fast cars, great films, wonderful buildings, wine, opera, the Renaissance and the Baroque… etc… etc… etc…

At their meetings in the Pavilion (il Padiglione?) in Tickhill, members hear lectures on Italian life, culture and history and those with a degree of ability in the language can have a discussion in the mother tongue.

It is all rather bellissimo but what is particularly stupendo is the fact that the Voglia d’Italia group – the Italian Society for South Yorkshire and North Notts – has recently marked its 20th anniversary and attracts members from across the county and beyond.

Molto bene, indeed!

A good turn-out. 191488-3

But some may wonder how a society for Italy lovers would begin life in thoroughly English Tickhill?

Peter Ingham, the current president of Voglia d’Italia, said starting up there was “pure chance”.

He explained: “The society was initially kicked off by some people in Tickhill, particularly by Melanie Rees.

“She talked to people and they had the first event, an Italian cheese and wine evening, in the Tickhill Pavilion.

“Mel lived in Italy and she liked it and thought it would be a good idea to start the group. She knew a few people around Tickhill who were interested. Since then it has gone from strength to strength.

Steve Hill is seen placing a pin where his great grandmother came from: Picinisco. 191488-5

“It seemed to take off from the very beginning.

“There aren’t many societies like this. There is one in Harrogate and one in Nottingham. People travel from as far away as Lincoln to go to Voglia d’Italia meetings in Tickhill.”

Although there is no direct translation into English of the word voglia, it pretty much refers to having a love or desire for something, which are words that can certainly be applied to society members.

“Voglia d’Italia is for anyone who has a yearning for, and love of, Italy,” said Peter, who lives in Rotherham.

“Some have lived in Italy and returned. We have Italian members and people who teach Italian.

“But the society is not just for Italian speakers. You don’t have to speak Italian but after each meeting the Italian speakers have a conversation group session.

“It’s a useful way for people who want to learn Italian.”

Andy Merrick enjoys a cheeky red. 191488-6

Society member Margaret Young added: “It’s very sociable but I also think people come to learn something about a subject they don’t know about.”

Indeed, the talks at each meeting are wide-ranging and cover all aspects of Italy and Italian life, culture and history.

Recently, for instance, the group has a talk on the Italian diaspora – people who have travelled out across the world – which attracted 15 visitors as well as usual members.

“People come for a talk on a subject of interest to them,” said Margaret.

“We always get a lot of visitors for history and architecture talks. People are sharing experiences of Italy as well.”

There are around 70 members of Voglia d’Italia and it has seen the numbers of those attending meetings and joining up grow in recent years.

Melanie Rees and Judith Smith. 191488-4

Members pay £15 a year to join – and even get a drink of wine (Italian obviously!) at meetings. Members range in age from their mid-thirties upwards.

A range of speakers are chosen to talk at meetings.

“We do try to be adventurous with our speakers,” said Peter.

Speakers are from “all over”, according to Margaret, and are certainly not all from academia.

“This year we have got someone from an Italian coffee company, and we have had speakers talking about ice cream and Italian bread,” Margaret said.

Past events have covered such wide-ranging subjects as architecture, art, literature, wine and food.

Fourth generation Yorkshire Italian businessman Michael Massarella has been supportive of the society and spoken to it on topics such as his family’s origins in the country, the success of his olive harvest and how an earthquake devastated his home.

So how did Peter and Margaret develop a love of Italy themselves?

Peter said: “I was an Alpine climber and used to do a lot of climbing in Italy. I have done a number of talks about it.”

Members of the committee. 191488-2

Margaret said: “I like the fact that there is something for everyone in Italy. There are walks, art galleries, the scenery is amazing. I love everything about it.

“I think there is something to appeal in all parts of it.

“Italy is known for style and that percolates into all aspects of life.”

Margaret said that she felt it was important for people to appreciate and understand other countries, whether it be Italy or any other. Indeed, Tickhill also has a popular French society.

“If you do love Europe I think societies like Voglia d’Italia are important,” said Margaret.

She said that various cultural groups exist across the country, particularly in London, which focus on different countries.

Voglia d’Italia is also, ofcourse, a social group for people to get together and have a good time. The annual Christmas party always proves a hit, offering

“Italian style fun and food to celebrate the festive season”.

There is an annual photography competition for members and many opportunities for people to tell the stories of their own experiences, past and present, of Italy.

There is even a pantomime which has a rather distinctive look.

“We have this panto. The characters line up and there will be one English person and Italian speaker for the same part and each will speak the part,” said Peter.

An information board shows what is going on in Italy. 191488-9

It certainly sounds a fun event!

Voglia d’Italia is a society that is as vibrant and busy as the country its members adore, bringing the sunshine and vitality of the southern European land into our part of the world.

So whether you know Italy via Inspector Montalbano, the beautiful singing voices of Cecilia Bartoli or Luciano Pavarotti, Prosecco wine or the sporting achievements of Inter Milan – or perhaps you’ve even been lucky enough to visit the country – there is a place where you can indulge your passion here in the heart of South Yorkshire.

Fantastico!

Voglia d’Italia’s programme of events 2020 –
February 7 – Sicily and Liguria, with Fabio Bezoari.
March 6 – Venice, Florence and Palermo: The Making of Italy, with Dr Cristina Figueredo of the University of York.
April 3 – A Passion for Coffee, with a representative from the Julius Meinl UK company.
May 1 – Music in the Art of Renaissance Italy, with Dr Tim Shephard of the University of Sheffield.
June 5 – Annual General Meeting, followed by a summer pizza party.
All meetings are at Tickhill Pavilion on Tithes Lane, Tickhill, beginning at 7.45pm.
Admission free to members or £3 non-members except December and June meetings when it is £5.
Contact president Peter Ingham on 01709 370895 or membership secretary Brenda Fedorenko on 01302 481597, or visit http://www.vogliaditaliatickhill.wordpress.com.

Tales of the Riverside

by ANTONY CLAY

Centenary Riverside Nature Reserve. 160430-4

IF you fancy staying in South Yorkshire for your trip into the natural world, why not pay a visit to the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s reserve at Centenary Riverside in Templeborough?

It is a rare green treat amongst the housing and industry near the M1 and attracts much of interest.

It is also an important site in that it is designed as a floodplain and is part of Rotherham’s Flood Alleviation Scheme. Basically, it floods so businesses and homes nearby don’t.

Centenary Riverside Nature Reserve. 160430-1

Centenary Riverside is alongside the River Don and is a 4.5 hectare wetland reserve with a wildflower meadow, a series of ponds and wetlands.

It was developed on the site of a former steel foundry which closed its doors back in 1993, as did so many.

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust took over the site in 2006 and made it what it is today. It opened as a reserve in 2009.

Centenary Riverside Nature Reserve. 160430-6

But its historic link hasn’t been forgotten with elements of the industrial past used in the impressive sculpture Steel Henge.

Urban nature havens are vital, and not just for the animals and plants. It is a gloomy human environment that doesn’t have a green spot to escape to, such as a park or an urban wetland. To be fair, Rotherham as a whole does very well for greenery but that doesn’t make what there is any less valuable.

At Centenary Riverside you can trek along footpaths to explore the site at your own pace.

But what is there? Sand martins are a regular and the reeds are home to a variety of birds such as little ringed plovers. The bird list is quite impressive but so are the mammals and particularly insects, especially butterflies fluttering about on the wildflower meadow bank.

Centenary Riverside Nature Reserve. 160430-1

Centenary Riverside is a nature spot which brings together the past and the present, and preserves fauna and flora for the future. It’s location puts it in the heart of Rotherham and Sheffield and it certainly represents the area’s positive forward-looking spirit.

Should you be feeling particularly active, the Trust holds regular volunteer work days at the reserve. Find out more by contacting the Trust.

FACTFILE
Find out more at http://www.wildsheffield.com.

Plenty to see at Lady Lee Quarry

by ANTONY CLAY

A LARGE shallow lake surrounded by vegetated margins and a few small islands. Now that sounds like a promising birding spot – and you would be right.

Lady Lee Quarry, a 2.4 hectare site in the Worksop area, is a nature reserve that is really worth the journey.

Kingfishers are a regular feature and other attractions include little grebe, blackcap, goldcrest, grey heron, snipe, great crested grebe and the hard-to-spot water rail.

But you don’t just have to confine yourself to our feathered friends because there is much more to offer besides.

Other fauna include grass snakes, many dragonflies and damselflies, as well as a range of amphibians.

Over the years, 83 bird species have been seen, as well as 158 species of plant, 55 fungi and more than 300 types of invertebrate.

Now that’s an impressive list!

Flora includes water plantain, mare’s tail, branched bur-reed, celery-leaved buttercup, pink water-speedwell, yellow-wort, fairy flax and cowslip.

You can also see hawthorn, wych elm, ash, holly and blackthorn.

According to the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which runs the site, it is located on a strip of magnesian limestone.

The site has become flooded naturally to form the lake and islands.

There is also a large woodland habitat at Lady Lee Quarry, and also dry grassland and marsh.

Until 1928 the site was part of a Lower Magnesian Limestone, now known as the Cadeby Formation, quarry. Since then a large part of the site was filled with refuse but Lady Lee Quarry remained untouched.

While the quarry was being worked, a branch of the Chesterfield Canal was built at the southern end of the site and some remnants remain, as well as the remains of three stone buildings.

Surveys of invertebrates have created good records for slugs and snails, spiders and harvestmen. In fact the site has offered up 28 of the 57 historically recorded marsh and land snail species in Nottinghamshire.

Plenty of bird food then!

Studies have also found 77 species of spider and seven of the 24 British species of harvestman.

A two-day invertebrate survey in 1999 discovered 339 species of which one was Red Data Book listed, seven nationally scarce and 29 considered local in their national distribution.

The site – located at SK562794 – is reached by taking a narrow road and public bridleway from the end of Haggonfields Lane in Worksop. Satnav types can tap in S80 3DL to get there.

There is a lot to see at Lady Lee Quarry for the keen naturalist so pop along and see it for yourself.

FACTFILE –
You can find out more about the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust at http://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/

OUT TOMORROW!!!

Travel to Cornwall and East Riddlesden Hall in West Yorkshire

Meet the boss of Rotherham arts organisation ROAR and a man helping Malawi schools

Read about pigeons and a special pig

Learn about flooding history

Gardening and wine

All in tomorrow’s Chase magazine – FREE with this week’s Rotherham Advertiser

Dormice in danger – but there is hope

by ANTONY CLAY

Picture by Angyalosi Beata

IT may look incredibly cute but the humble hazel dormouse certainly isn’t sitting pretty.

The tiny rodent has seen its numbers plummet by more than 50 per cent since the year 2000, according to a new report.

Loss of quality woodland habitat has been highlighted as a major factor in the shocking population decline.

The report says that woodland management is critical to halting the disappearance of this charismatic species.

The new report has been published by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and shows that Britain’s population of hazel dormice has declined by 51 per cent since the millennium, decreasing on average by 3.8 per cent each year.

Picture by Hattie Spray

The State of Britain’s Dormice 2019 report underlines the importance of providing the right habitat for dormice, and maintaining such habitats through correct woodland management practices is the key to bringing this endangered species back from the brink.

In Britain, dormice – known for their endearing appearance with soft caramel fur, furry tail and big black eyes – are threatened and are considered to be vulnerable to extinction.

Sadly hazel dormice are already extinct from 17 counties in England and the areas where they are still known to exist are almost all entirely south of a line between Shropshire and Suffolk.

Ian White, dormouse and training officer at PTES, said: “The decline in dormouse numbers is due to the loss and fragmentation of their natural woodland and hedgerow habitats, as well as climate change.

“In particular, it is the loss of habitat quality that is of real concern.

“Sympathetic woodland management is essential for the recovery of dormice. Whether woodlands are managed for timber or public access, shrubby areas should be created beneath the tree canopy. These provide dormice, and many other species, with areas to nest and feed in while also being able to access the mature trees.

“It is this variety of woodland habitats required to help dormice survive.”

Hazel dormice prefer structurally diverse habitats. They utilise tree holes to nest in, dense woodland understorey to raise their young and feed in, and hedgerows and bramble banks to disperse through.

But the way in which woodlands are managed has changed with traditional management practices such as coppicing, glade creation and small-scale tree felling – which once created mosaic habitats – becoming less common.

This means that many of the woodlands that can be seen today simply aren’t suitable for dormice.

These factors, combined with unseasonable or extreme weather, can be detrimental to dormice survival.

Despite this there are some areas where dormice numbers are increasing. At 96 of 336 sites analysed for the new report, populations were stable or going up.

Also, at 28 of these sites the average annual increase was five per cent or more per year.

But there is still lots of conservation work to do to help the vulnerable rodent.

PTES is trying to ensure that dormice can thrive once again in the countryside.

It manages the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme (NDMP) – the longest-running small terrestrial mammal monitoring programme in the world.

Since NDMP began in 1990, hundreds of volunteers across England and Wales have collected more than 120,000 records, providing a significant data set which indicates how dormouse populations are faring. It is this data that has been used in the State of Britain’s Dormice 2019 report.

In addition, over the last 26 years, PTES has managed 30 reintroductions at 24 sites, releasing almost 1,000 captive-bred dormice to create new populations or improve genetic diversity at existing ones.

These reintroductions play an important role in the long-term conservation of the species, returning dormice to 12 counties in England where they have been lost.

PTES also provides training and guidance for woodland managers, encouraging them to adopt appropriate land management practices.

PTES is working to improve people’s understanding of dormouse ecology and to improve the problem of habitat fragmentation.

The conservation charity is funding research into hibernation when dormice can be very vulnerable.

It has recently launched the Great British Hedgerow Survey, whereby farmers and landowners are being asked to assess the condition of their hedgerows and PTES are working with the ecological consultancy Animex to create dormouse bridges to improve accessibility between habitats.

Ian said: “Although the State of Britain’s 2019 report shows a severe decline has taken place over the last 18 years, the good news is that in some areas dormice are doing well.

“We can help bring this species back if we alter the way we manage our landscape. By providing enough of the right habitat, which is well-connected and managed correctly, dormice, as well as a huge amount of other wildlife, can thrive once again across the country.”

The hard battle to save a war memorial

by ANTONY CLAY

Chairman of the Friends of Bolton upon Dearne Memorial Lewis Jackson.

EVERY year on Remembrance Day, people make a point of showing their respect for those who lost their lives in battle. Whether it be attending a church service, standing at a cenotaph or taking part in the traditional two minutes’ silence at 11am, there is the same commitment across the country amongst all age groups.

But there is one village where the fight to keep their war memorial has also been important, bringing people together to stand for what they believe in.

The story of Bolton-upon-Dearne’s war memorial, located on the old Lacewood Primary School site at Furlong Road, is one of steely determination to save a site which the people feel is so important to their heritage that they just weren’t prepared to see it demolished.

The Friends of Bolton-on-Dearne War Memorial have battled for years to make sure the monument is maintained, and it has become an increasingly popular site for the annual Remembrance service.

Members of the public and former members of the military choose to stand and remember the dead, whatever the weather, each November.

The setting for the war memorial may seem incongruous, in the middle of a street and opposite small green area, but it has become a well-loved focus for the community.

This year, people were asked to leave pieces of coal or stones painted black as a tribute to the area’s miners whose efforts in the world wars kept the military machine going.

In 2018, rows of poppies made from beer cans created a dramatic effect.

Eileen Westhead-Petty, an honorary member of the Friends of Bolton-upon-Dearne War Memorial, is proud of the structure and what it means to the village.

“This is original to the whole of England. There is nothing else like it,” she said.

Chairman of the Friends of Bolton-upon Dearne Memorial Lewis Jackson, lays a wreath at the memorial.

So what is the story behind the war memorial?

It was originally built way back in 1924 on the site of the old Lacewood Primary School.

So when plans were revealed in 2010 to demolish the old school and replace it with housing on the site, the war memorial’s future looked distinctly bleak.

But a group of local residents were having none of it and set about tirelessly campaigning to save the monument, despite obstacles being put in their way by the powers-that-be.

The Friends of Bolton-upon-Dearne War Memorial were formed.

Artist Eileen Westhead-Petty with her installation remembering the miners, at the Bolton upon Dearne Memorial.

“I was livid they were going to wipe out the memorial of those who have died in the war and thought we would not be bothered,” said Eileen.

“They gave us every hurdle to jump over.

“Because I was so passionate about saving it in 2010, I got my dad to come to it. I said get your beret and your medals and made him come. He was the only one there that first year but next year there were more people and their medals and caps, After that there have been more people each year.

“There are a lot of people over the years who have done a little bit to help.”

Artist Eileen Westhead-Petty with one of her installations at the Bolton upon Dearne Memorial.

It was Eileeen who, last year. devised an art installation which got the monument plenty of publicity. The artwork featured 109 crosses, poppies and footprints, with a cross for the memorial itself.

Secretary of the Friends of Bolton-upon-Dearne War Memorial, Sue Hodgson, said that originally Lord Halifax had wanted a memorial for Goldthorpe which was placed inside a church. This prompted activity to get a memorial for Bolton-upon-Dearne.

But raising the cash proved a problem – given a £3,000 building estimate – so nothing happened.

But a large inglenook fireplace in an old building came to the attention of the people wanting the memorial which was eventually taken down by council workmen brick by brick and rebuilt at Lacewood Primary on the spot where the memorial is now.

Friends of Bolton upon Dearne Memorial co founder and treasurer Margaret Fudge with the new information board.

George Farquhar-Pennington, who had won an award for designing a housing development in the village, was approached and asked to make the fireplace into a memorial.

Sue said that Mr Washington, the head of the school at the time, fought hard to get the memorial built and “there was a lovely opening ceremony”.

Sue said that when local people learnt that Barnsley Council wanted to knock down the school, they were told the war memorial would be put into the garden of the Royal British Legion premises nearby.

But the problem was that there was no garden.

Sue said: “When we saw there was no garden existing we contacted the War Graves Commission and said we were concerned it was going to be demolished.

“We were out on our own.”

Friends of Bolton upon Dearne Memorial. From left to right are: co founder and treasurer Margaret Fudge, co founder and secretary Sue Hodgson, chairman Lewis Jackson and press officer and artist Eileen Westhead-Petty.

A committee of eight people was put together to save the memorial.

“We carried on and we fought and we fought and had meetings with agencies,” said Sue.

It was eventually agreed that two fewer houses than planned would be built to leave space for the war memorial.

The grounds in which the memorial stands were gifted to the people of Bolton-upon-Dearne on the understanding the site would be used for education purposes.

But the Charity Commission threw a spanner in the works by claiming that the war memorial was not educational and so had to come down.

Sue said: “Having done immense research we realised it was a jewel in our crown so we wrote to English Heritage and they came out.

Art made and donated by RAF Leeming.

“We got a Grade 2 listing which made it harder for the Charity Commission to demolish it.”

The Friends were eventually given custodianship of the site.

“In the end the Charity Commission said let them have it but they cannot have all of it,” said Sue.

The Friends got to see the building plans for the site and discovered that planners wanted to have a road through half of memorial site. But the builders agreed to change the plans and gave five years worth of free use of the site from 2018.

“We are hoping that it stays like that,” said Sue.

“We are limited now to what we can do but we are trying very, very hard.”

The group is maintaining the war memorial – which a study found was so strong it would last for decades – and there are now moves to add a memorial to miners.

“Hopefully next year it will all be finished, ten years after we started it,” said Sue.

Staff from RAF Leeming in north Yorkshire have made metal and wooden soldiers for the site and there are plans for a garden to be grown.

“We have been lucky that our chair’s sister is a lay minister and comes around every year to deliver a service,” said Sue.

“We are trying to keep it alive.

“I say to people we are stood where the wives and family members stood at the opening service.

“We want people who have moved into the village to feel welcomed. They don’t have to have a family member but they can come and attend. We are one big family.

“If anyone brings anything to leave we don’t throw it away. The war memorial is the villagers’. Whatever they want to bring we will not knock it.”

Eileen said that last year, 80 people came to the Remembrance service despite bad weather. This year the turnout was impressive again.

She said that she felt deeply moved by the interest and respect shown by local school children when visiting the site.

“I went to the assembly last year and I cannot describe how it felt to watch three to four year olds show respect by being quiet and respectful when being at the memorial,” she said.

The war memorial in Bolton-upon-Dearne is as much a testament to the fighting spirit of the modern community as it is as a way of remembering war heroes.

And the memorial seems set to stay.

Moths on the move!

by ANTONY CLAY

A NEW study of Britain and Ireland’s larger moths has revealed that they are on the move.

Driven by factors such as climate change and habitat damage, many species are modifying their ranges.

The newly published Atlas of Britain and Ireland’s Larger Moths has revealed the extent of the changes.

Scientists say that intensive agriculture has caused the decline of many moth species through the destruction of wildlife-rich habitats and use of fertilisers and pesticides.

Widespread environmental pollution such as artificial light at night and chemicals in the air and soil, are altering plant and animal communities in ways that are damaging to moths.

Man-made climate change has facilitated the spread of moths to new parts of Britain and Ireland that were formerly too cold, while at the same time posing a long-term risk to species found in cool and restricted habitats such as mountainsides.

The book is comprehensive and lists 893 species.

The scientists’ analysis of distribution records over the period 1970 to 2016 in particular shows that 31 per cent of 390 larger moth species have decreased significantly in Britain.

During that same period 38 per cent of species became significantly more widespread in Britain.

This means that the range of moths in any particular area is changing rapidly, with some species disappearing and others ready to colonise new areas.

The atlas is the first publication to trace the distribution of all larger moths of Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands in forensic detail.

It is based on more than 25 million records sourced from Butterfly Conservation’s National Moth Recording Scheme and the MothsIreland database. These date from the 18th century through to 2016, meaning this volume contains 275 years of moth-recording effort.

The book will help scientists to further track the fortunes of Britain and Ireland’s larger moths.

Dr Zoe Randle

Lead researcher on the Atlas, Dr Zoë Randle, said: “The Atlas of Britain and Ireland’s Larger Moths is a landmark publication and a treasure trove to be mined to help us understand the patterns of change in Britain and Ireland’s moths.

“The data used to produce the atlas has been collected by moth recorders (citizen scientists) who are united in their love, passion and interest in moths. It’s incredible what a movement of individuals can achieve as a community. We’re very grateful to everyone who has contributed their moth records; without them, we could not have published this book.

“Moths are indicators of the health of our environment. The declines reported are concerning, especially when you consider the potential knock on effects for other creatures such as bats and birds that rely on moths and their caterpillars as a food source.

“Moths also have an important role as pollinators of wildflowers and garden plants. They could be considered to be the bees of the night-time.

“Ultimately, we need to understand and value other species and the benefits they bring to our lives and the perils we face if we don’t.”

The atlas has confirmed is that some species have been lost entirely in recent decades, such as the Brighton Wainscot and Orange Upperwing, and there are grave concerns for several others including the Speckled Footman, Pale Shining Brown and Stout Dart, which have not been recorded recently.

But other moths have colonised Britain, such as the stunning Clifden Nonpareil, Tree-lichen Beauty and Black-spotted Chestnut, or have spread rapidly northwards within Britain to become much more widespread and abundant than previously, such as the Buff Footman, Pale Pinion and Black Arches.

In Ireland, species such as the Rosy Wave, Orange Sallow and Blair’s Shoulder-knot have colonised this century.

Losses would have been worse if not for conservation action which has greatly reduced the risk of extinction for moths such as the New Forest Burnet and Barberry Carpet.

The abundance of moths has declined. Detailed monitoring has enabled the calculation of long-term population trends for 397 species in Britain – 34 per cent of moth species have decreased significantly in abundance over the period 1970-2016, compared with only 11 per cent of species which increased significantly.

Ken Bond

Ken Bond, from MothsIreland, said: “A lack of systematic recording of moth abundance in Ireland until fairly recently makes comparison more difficult, but there are clear indications that the abundance of a number of Irish species have declined substantially in recent decades.”