Botanist David Bellamy has praised a Herefordshire family’s longstanding devotion to caring for wildlife on their Woodside Lodges Country Park in Ledbury.
For the fifteenth year in succession, the park has been presented with the prestigious David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level.
He also gave Woodside Lodges two special commendations for its efforts to protect honey bees, and its success in creating new wildflower habitats.
The Davies family, said Professor Bellamy, had made the rare achievement of fifteen golds on the trot thanks to a raft of green initiatives on the 28-acre park grounds.
Woodside was acquired as a smallholding by Ken Davies and his wife Janet over 50 years ago.
Today it provides luxury Scandinavian log cabins for hire, plus glamping facilities and pitches for touring holiday guests as well as a bunkhouse for walkers and cyclists.
The park is still managed by 88-year-old Ken, together with the next generation of the family and John and Angela Baker who joined them 14 years ago.
Announcing its latest conservation award, David Bellamy highlighted the park’s wildflower meadow with nectar-rich blooms on which honey bees, butterflies and other pollinators can forage.
The park has also developed a series of ponds which are now a magnet for different aquatic wildlife including kingfishers, newts, dragonflies and wetland plants.
One of the lakes has been designated for “wild swimming” by guests who are also able to enjoy clear views of the night sky thanks to the park’s use of shielded illumination.
Traditional coppicing is carried out on native trees – hundreds of which have been planted over the years – and a converted barn has been provided with a special roof to allow the resident bats to flourish.
According to Ken Davies, Woodside has long been a favourite of couples and families who enjoy immersing themselves in the wonders of the natural world:
“From the outset, we have tried to ensure that the park is run along sustainable lines, and base all of our decisions on what impact they will have on wildlife and the environment,” said Ken.
“We are also especially keen on encouraging youngsters to come closer to the countryside and to make new discoveries with events such as pond dipping and butterfly spotting.
“Our family feels very privileged to be able to live and work in this glorious part of Herefordshire, and its wonderful to be doing so with the support of someone like David Bellamy,” added Ken.
David Bellamy also applauded the park’s engagement with the neighbouring community, and its championing of local nature groups, many of which the Davies family are members.
There is more information available on the park’s website at www.woodsidelodges.co.uk