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Young people help find homes for hundreds of birds thanks to Bluestone

Wales U20 head coach Ioan Cunningham (with ball) pictured with his assistant coaches (left to right) T Rhys Thomas, Paul James and Richard Fussell

AN INITIATIVE that began with just a few bird boxes being produced by Pembrokeshire schoolchildren to help nurture local nature soon snowballed with nearly 400 of them being built and distributed around the UK.

Pupils from Portfield School in Haverfordwest have been visiting Bluestone Resort near Narberth annually to help build boxes which are placed around the 500-acre resort.

In 2019 and 2020 the Portfield pupils built around 50 bird boxes that were sited, among other areas, in the historic Canaston Woods as well as at their own school site.

But the idea soon developed, and this year hundreds of families and young people got involved during their holidays at the resort, assembling their own bird boxes before taking them home to help house birds in their own communities.

And it was down to one of Bluestone’s employees, Matt Badger, to enable the idea which he began undertaking in his own time.

Marten Lewis, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Bluestone, said: “Each year the pupils from Portfield come to see the range of work we’re doing to support and encourage nature and biodiversity. The bird box building has been a part of that each time.

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“In recent times our gardens and parks have become too tidy, with many of the scruffy bushes, nooks and crannies in old trees and walls disappearing, leaving birds with fewer places to nest. Bird boxes play an important part in giving our wild birds a helping hand.”

He added: “But this year one of our employees, Matt Badger, wanted to help scale up the project and ended up cutting the wood for nearly 400 wooden bird boxes. These were then assembled by hundreds of young people and their families while staying at Bluestone before being taken home to all parts of the UK to help birds and nature in their own communities.”

The materials for the bird boxes were sourced from UK grown sustainable woodlands with FSC accreditation. They were cut by Matt, a Facilities Compliance Co-Ordinator and keen trained carpenter, supported by Park Ranger Rob Mackeen who helped while Matt was off work.

Matt said: “We wanted to show young people how easy it is to help nurture nature. Many people who come to Bluestone do it because of the abundance of biodiversity, from the woods to the meadow and lake. They get hands on with a range of activities but assembling the bird boxes and taking them home ensures they continue their journey of understanding nature, as well as the memories they have from here.”

So keen about the idea, Matt initially began undertaking the timber cutting in his own time. Marten sourced the wood from a local supplier to ensure the whole process was as local as possible.

“We managed to undertake the whole project locally and at less cost,” he said

Matt added that he hoped other organisations and businesses would start similar projects working with schools and young people. “Imagine if more and more bird boxes began appearing in gardens and public places to support and encourage our biodiversity.”