Dormice in danger – but there is hope


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


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!


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.”

It’s a top museum – and that’s the plane truth


AIRCRAFT have a strange fascination for people. Their sleek designs combine high technology and style – and there is always the nagging question when standing close to their vast bulks of ‘how on earth do they ever get off the ground?’

From the first attempts at flight using little more than wood and string to the gigantic military planes big enough to carry other aircraft and tanks, there is something special about them.

Aircraft are simply intriguing.

So, anyone visiting the Newark Air Museum – dubbed “the friendly aviation museum” – can’t help but be drawn in by the machines on show at the former RAF base.

Located next to Newark Showground just off the A46, Newark Air Museum may be a tad off the beaten track but it is a must-see destination for all ages.

Run by volunteers, the non-profit making museum is based on part of the former RAF Winthorpe site.

An array of planes – and a good few helicopters – are displayed either outdoors or in large display sheds.

The range of things to see is impressive but is laid out in such a way that different aspects of air history are offered up in helpful chunks.

There is, for instance, an indoor display showing RAF history in the area, another featuring engines.

You can get up close and personal with most of the aircraft, walking within feet of them or, in the case of the Vulcan bomber, right underneath.

There is clearly a real love and devotion for the subject by the team which runs the museum – and the fact that it attracts visitors from far and wide suggests they are certainly doing something right.

You get the feeling that you are on an old air base when walking around. There is a distinct sense of history.

A new cafe serves up tasty fare after a long day browsing (or a short time in the cold British weather!) and a well-stocked shop offers books and magazines galore on air-related matters, as well as a large assortment of Airfix model kits to let you build your own small version of the planes you will have been inspired by on your visit.

It can be strange to see aircraft which have played a major role in defence in the past standing regimentally on the ground of the museum, but it is also thought-provoking. These glorious machines, well maintained and looked after by the museum, undertook military missions or rescue operations or even carried passengers in some cases. They are true Forces veterans.

It is very much the military theme that is paramount at Newark Air Museum, and quite rightly too given the site’s RAF history.

For instance, you can get a look behind the scenes at how RAF airmen in the Second World War would have lived, the equipment they used and divine something about the characters of those brave men.

The equipment they had back in the day is displayed, ranging from plane cockpit gear to radar equipment and even the clothes they wore.

You can also see ejector seats, gun turrets, photographs, memorabilia – things that make the stories being told that much more real.

The aircraft on show range from the magnificent Vulcan bomber, the MIG-23M Flogger and the Meteor T7 planes to Sioux AH10 and Wessex helicopters and the Taylor Monoplane G-APRT.

There are also early aircraft on display.

You get the chance to explore flight simulators and cockpits. microlights and a radar cabin.

I found the shed full of engines fascinating. This is where art and science come together. Every part of the engine has an engineering purpose but they also look like metal sculptures. One, with its tubes and almost biological look, reminded me of the work of artist H R Giger.

During my last visit, another visitor took it upon himself to play a tune on one of the engines by tapping various bits of it. It was quite melodic. A bit Kraftwerk in a way – but not a recommended use of former military equipment!

Lancaster Corner in Hangar 1 displays World War Two artefacts associated with the famous Lancaster bomber and wartime RAF Winthorpe, which was a training base for 5 Group Bomber Command.

The museum’s 619 Squadron ME846 Lancaster display relates to an aircraft and crew that crashed in June 1944 over northern Belgium.

Displayed above a fuselage section is a Lancaster wing-tip that was recovered near Grantham. There is also a Lancaster rear turret that housed twin 0.5 inch guns.

The air museum really does have so much to see and can take up a full day. What is particularly good is that it is as exciting to visit for children as it is for adults. There is a sense that history is brought to life, which is something that appeals to kids.

The air museum was opened officially back in April 1973 and has developed since then, with the opening of its two massive aircraft display halls a major step forward.

The founding aim of the museum was “the preservation of the country’s aviation heritage and to display a collection of aircraft and exhibits to the local public”.

It has certainly achieved that aim and is well worth visiting for a great day out.

Newark Air Museum calls itself “the friendly aviation museum” and that is very much the case.

The museum is open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Opening hours: March to October 10am-5pm, November to February 10am-4pm.
Admission: Gift Aid donation price – Adult £9.90, Over 65s £8.80, Family (2 adults and 3 children) £26.40, Child £4.95; non-Gift Aid donation price – Adult £9, Over 65s £8,
Child £4.50, Family £24; under fives free, special rates for disabled/students/UB40 holders/serving members of the armed forces, veterans/parties of 15-plus available on application.
Address: Drove Lane, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24 2NY
Telephone: 01636 707170

‘I love this place – but it’s bonkers!’


Edlington Community Organisation junior citizen officer Toni Matthews, project manager Samantha Sidall and community engagement officer Lynn Brookes.

A GROUP based in the heart of a South Yorkshire community is working hard to offer opportunities for old and young alike.

And the group has been honoured for its efforts, recently walking away with a prestigious prize in a major awards contest.

But Edlington Community Organisation (ECO) is not resting on its laurels and intends to up its offer even further and provide even more for the people who see it as an important part of their lives.

Located at Edlington’s Yorkshire Main Community Centre, on Edlington Lane, ECO runs activities throughout the week for children and adults.

But it also has a food bank and goes out into the community too.

Backed by the area’s MP and councillors, the thriving group’s management team is busy busy busy.

Community engagement officer Lynn Brookes works alongside junior citizen officer Toni Matthews, and centre manager and manager of ECO Sam Siddall.

Yorkshire Main Community Centre.

Chair Tony Wormley and a number of trustees and volunteers also back the group.

The group’s trophy cupboard show how ECO has had a positive impact over the years.

For instance, there are three St Leger Awards given by St Leger Homes this year alone and the group walked away with the Community Group title at BBC Radio Sheffield’s recent Community Championships Awards.

“We didn’t think we were going to get that. We were just happy to be there. We got a standing ovation,” said Lynn, who is a relatively recent addition to ECO having begun work with the group about a year ago.

She said that thanks to ECO the diary of actvities and classes at the centre is now permanently full, with more ideas on the cards.

Community cupboard officer Diane Vicarage makes up food parcels at Edlington Community Organisation’s food bank.

Lynn said: “We do a massive range of things for the community.

“We now do events for all ages throughout the week.

“It’s just growing and growing.

“Anything we can try we will have a go at.”

Indeed, there are many options for local people to get involved with, ranging from gymnastics to the choir to burlesque.

“This morning we had a toddler group and a quiz this afternoon,” said Lynn.

“We just do everything we can.”

Recent big events have included a Halloween disco and a Christmas market which took over the car park at the back of the Yorkshire Main Community Centre.

The choir – known as AChoired Taste – has proved a hit and members now go out to homes to entertain people as well as undertaking other performances.

Edlington Community Organisation workers, volunteers and service users.

Lynn said that the youth club has gone down well and was set up as a way of offering early intervention with younger members before they were tempted off the straight and narrow and a way of getting older ones off the street where trouble could be the other option.

There are plans for the youth club to offer boxing, bike building and graffiti sessions.

The police have supported the youth club – which even included local PCSOs having arm wrestling competitions against the kids. Who won was not revealed!

In fact, PCSOs come in most days to meet members of the public and Lynn believed it was having a positive effect on the community.

A lot of groups utilise the hall at the community centre and there are free classes through organisations like Creative Directions which is run by Doncaster-based arts body darts.

ECO runs an after-school club every day of the week and is also working with Doncaster theatre Cast to create an upcoming musical.

There are even bus trips out for Edlington people, recent examples being to Bakewell Market and The Deep in Hull.

ECO’s independent food bank is provided with supplies from Tesco and Greggs, as well as domestic donations.

It is not based on people being referred to it by the authorities as is the case with other food banks, but is based on word of mouth and local need.

Lynn said that ECO staff or volunteers will “have a chat” with people in need of support and try to help them.

The food bank is run by six or seven volunteers.

There is also a Community Cupboard, with food supplied by Foodshare and enabling 75 members the opportunity to pay £4 per week to get £20-30 of shopping.

Volunteer and food cupboard trustee Cath Siddall checks stock in the food cupboard.

ECO staff also aim to feed all the groups using the centre, such as the kids’ clubs.

“Every group gets something,” said Lynn.

She praised the help that ECO gets from people in the community.

“We can’t do what we do without our volunteers,” she said.

There are four paid staff but 60 eager helpers who turn up to keep the whole thing moving.

Lynn said that ECO is a success because it is open to everyone in the community. People can just pop in and have a drink and a chat, whereas others sign up to take part in activities.

“People are made to feel welcome and feel comfortable,” said Lynn.

“We get so many different people walking in through the day.

“We have a lot of the same people coming in but we have a lot of different people too.

“The plan is to keep doing it. It’s obviously wanted and needed.

“It’s different every day.

“We just want to keep going.

“I absolutely love this place – but it’s bonkers. We do have a habit of playing tricks on each other but it’s just a laugh.”

Edlington Community Association workers and volunteers have a meeting at Yorkshire Main Community Centre.

Lynn said that the centre has proved a “lifeline” for some people, such as a woman who felt isolated after her husband died but found a new purpose courtesy of ECO.

The group has been fundraising for a van to allow more activities to take place. People have been using their cars up to now, as well as rather small van, but with the increase in demand a bigger vehicle is badly needed.

A money boost from Sport England to renovate the building has also been a welcome shot in the arm.

Sam Siddall has been working with ECO at the centre since the late 1990s.

She has been involved for 25 years, starting when she was at school, and even missed her A-levels to join the group.

She said that ECO is busier than ever and that the people of Edlington welcome having it at their heart.

“We do more than we have ever done for the last 20 years and it’s all about passionate people,” said Sam.

“Edlington felt it did not have a voice so Edlington Community Organisation was set up with support from Doncaster Council.

“The people now have got somewhere crazy to go.

“It gives people a sense of belonging as well because everyone is from the village.

“Edlington is constantly in the papers for bad stuff but this shows the good things. It’s rewarding.

“It’s a pride thing.

“Around 22,000 people used the facility last year.”

Sam said that many people have asked to be involved in helping ECO and they have been given a “chore”.

Sam said: “The skills they have are recognised.

“We just trust people.”

Sam said that her hope is for ECO’s offering at the community centre to get even bigger even though the greater workload could be a challenge.

Edlington Community Association’s junior citizens officer Toni Matthews.

“We have run out of space to do everything we want to do,” she said.

“People come up with suggestions and then we try to do it.

“For instance, we want to start a club for dementia sufferers and their carers.

“If we have an idea we try it, give it a go. Some things will work and others will not.”

The “backbone” of ECO’s funding is from the Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation which provides grants for charitable organisations.

Other money comes from such sources as Children in Need, Stronger Safer Communities, the Community Investment Fund and the NHS.

Volunteer and trustee Mo Tennison said: “I’m passionate about giving to the community.

“People come in for a chat and they get involved.

“It gives them the opportunity to get involved.

“You have to give respect to get respect.”

Mo said that Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, councillors and members of Doncaster Council staff have all been very supportive of ECO’s work because they see how important it has become for the people of Edlington.

“The community has a voice,” said Mo.

“People can just come in for a chat if they want to. We don’t look down on people.

“This is the hub of the community.”

Three decades of success for arts group


The Point, Doncaster.

AN arts group is celebrating its 30th birthday this year with a packed calendar of activities.

darts, based at The Point on South Parade in Doncaster, has had three decades of success providing artistic activities to people right across the town.

Now, darts – Doncaster Community Arts – aims to remain the important hub for artists that is has become.

The group opened The Point in an attractive Georgian town house back in May 1998 as its base after starting life in 1990 in a back room at Bentley Library.

darts moved to Bentley West End Youth Centre before receiving funding to convert 16 and 17 South Parade to become The Point.

The building not only provides a base for darts staff and various art groups, it is a base for companies which helps it pay its way.

In 2020, to mark the big birthday, The Point will be getting a new look including new signage and wayfinding to ensure visitors have a great visit.

darts will be releasing new films which shine a light on the difference made by the group to lots of different people

And there will be a big party to celebrate the anniversary to which all staff past and present are invited.

darts’ chief executive Duncan Robertshaw said: “This is a huge milestone for us.

“We plan to celebrate all year long, as well as raise the profile of the things we do best.

“Working with the excellent Eleven Design, and in collaboration with our staff, trustees, volunteers and participants, we will be launching a new look early in the new year.

“This is just one of the exciting activities we have in store for 2020.”

Helen Jones, assistant director of darts, said: “We can’t wait to start the celebrations for our 30th birthday by opening Wow! Said the Owl here at The Point.

“This is a nationally significant exhibition, with lots of family-friendly and interactive activities to enjoy. We’re very excited for people to enjoy a visit.”

One regular visitor to The Point is 10-year-old Daisy Watt.
Not only has she won a top award, she has raised thousands of pounds through her art for cancer charities.

She won 2019’s Achievement in the Arts award organised by the Yorkshire Young Achievers Foundation.

Through the sale of her paintings, Daisy has raised almost £50,000 for cancer charities.

She was inspired to use her talent in this way when both her Granny and Grandad were diagnosed with cancer at a similar time.

Daisy has been coming to The Point and getting stuck into creative activities with darts since she was a baby. Art Adventures, led by professional artists for pre-schoolers and their parents or carers, engaged very young children in a range of creative experiences, offering the chance to experiment, play and learn together.

Since then, Daisy and her family have visited pretty much every exhibition in the gallery at The Point and she has been to every single Tuesday Art Club session since it started two years ago.

She says that coming to The Point and working with darts artists has played a big part in developing her artwork.

Daisy said: “It has made me more confident and given me lots of ideas. We don’t do much art at school.”

Assistant director of darts, Helen Jones, who runs the Tuesday Art Club, said: “We are incredibly proud of Daisy and are so pleased to have played a part in the development of such talent.

“It’s fantastic that our creative sessions really do allow children and young people to flourish and grab hold of opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have access to.

“The Point is open to all and the activities that darts artists run here are fully inclusive and accessible. Why not see what we have to offer?”
One woman who has also made good use of The Point over the years is Sharon Constantine.

She believes that attending regular sessions has helped her cope over the years.

Sharon said: “When our family lived in Thorne Road (in Doncaster), my two boys were aged one and three, I used to walk down to The Point for outdoor and indoor play with them. I can’t remember what the sessions were called, but at the time it was a great place for me to go to as I felt a bit isolated as a newish mum and struggling with post-natal depression.

“Fast forward quite a few years, my big two are 22 and 24 now. We move to Misson where eventually I had another son, now 14. I still attend events, mostly now for children with additional needs.

Daisy Watt

“I discovered that (other The Point users) Lucy and Duncan live in the same village as me, and we’ve become firm friends for life. Our youngest children also have a very special bond.

“I am extremely grateful for the lifeline The Point provided for me back then, and for the incredible facilities and events I still attend now.

“Thank you for being there for us, and long may you continue with your success.”

The Point is set to continue its mission to promote the arts in Doncaster throughout its 30th year and beyond, appealing to users of all ages and experiences.

Out tomorrow!

The January edition of the Rotherham Advertiser’s monthly lifestyle magazine Chase is free with tomorrow’s paper.

Don’t miss out on a great read!