Last week I took part in my first CMPP Community Action Day when three TVision colleagues and I spent the morning clearing scrub at Horsell Common.

CMPP Community Action Day horsell common

The Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS) is a registered charity which owns and manages over 855 acres of common land in the Woking area. These include Horsell Common, Pyrford Common, Littlewick Common, and Woodham Common.

Since the 1980s Horsell Common has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In 2005, the Common gained a new international status as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the European Birds Directive. In 2010 the HCPS acquired Heather Farm, the former site of the Blue Prince Mushrooms growing farm, and over the next six years transformed it into the Heather Farm Wetland Area, a Site of Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANGs). Heather Farm, which opened to the public officially is 2016, is now a very popular site for walkers, runners and dog walkers. It is also a site for a number of commercial activities and the headquarters of the HCPS.

Clearing the scrub to protect the habitat of Horsell Common

When Danusia, Deetz, Krisy and I arrived at the HCPS office at Heather Farm, we were met by Rachel, the Senior Ranger at Horsell Common. She informed us that our task for the day would be scrub clearing in an area of Horsell Common known as the “Triangle”. We were also joined by two volunteers from CMPP who had decided to come along as this activity day was a great opportunity to be outdoors whilst participating in a volunteering project.

Horsell Common is made up mainly of heathland and this habitat is an important breeding ground for a number of birds including the nightjar, Dartford Warbler, stonechat and grasshopper warbler. However, there are parts of the Common, such as the Triangle, which are heavily scrubbed and need to be cleared of invasive and non-indigenous plants such as pine and birch trees.

Armed with gardening gloves, loppers and bow saws, we spent the morning pulling out pine saplings, cutting down small birch trees and, for the brave and stronger few, sawing down the slightly larger trees with a vicious looking saw. I found it extremely rewarding to see the pile of scrub grow over the morning. It was satisfying to know that the work we were doing was helping turn the area we were clearing into a more favourable habitat for local wildlife. When I visited the area at the weekend with my family, I was able to point the area that we had been working on – and see there was a discernible difference.

Meeting some of the local wildlife

blue tit horsell common

We were also very lucky to meet one of the HCPS’s longest serving volunteers who told us all about the work he does bird ringing on Horsell Common (Thankfully not “bird wringing” which is what Danusia originally thought he said!). Bird ringing or bird banding is the attachment of a small, individually numbered metal or plastic tag to the leg or wing of a wild bird to enable individual identification. This helps in keeping track of the movements of the bird and its life history. He also showed us three birds he had caught and was banding that morning, including a very feisty blue tit and a tiny goldcrest, which I have since discovered is the smallest bird in Europe.

All of the TVision team really enjoyed their time helping with the scrub clearing. I am a regular visitor to Horsell Common, either enjoying the many walking trails around the Common or using the café and other commercial facilities at Heather Farm. It is great to know that I have had the opportunity to give back in a small way to the HCPS and what it does for the local Woking community.

Deetz commented: “It was great to be out in the sunshine with my colleagues helping remove shrubs that were encroaching over heathland to help create an area for the rare birds to nest. We also were lucky to hear and learn about ‘bird ringing’ and meet three little birds that were caught that morning.”

Krisy added: “It was lovely to be able to help out at Horsell Common scrub clearing. We learnt so much about the local conservation, saw some local wildlife and it was nice to have the opportunity to give back to the community.”

Danusia said: “As a long-serving Partner we have been involved in a number of CMPP Community Action Days. Our participation means that we are asked to commit to supporting several projects per year. But these strange circumstances of COVID means we hadn’t been able to get out and support a local charity yet this year. When I saw that HCPS were looking for volunteers on the weekly Community Action Day requests email, I jumped at the chance and offered to support this event with our TVision volunteers. With careful social distancing at all times and sanitised equipment, we were able to have a well needed catch up of the team face-to-face whilst participating in worthwhile CSR activity in the great outdoors.”

TVision Technology is a member of the CMPP and has taken part in a number of Community Action Days. CMPP is a dynamic charity helping local companies deliver Corporate Social Responsibility projects. Learn more, get involved in a Community Action Day or request volunteers for your Community Action Day activity here.

Read our other Community Action day reports here:

By Marketing Campaigns Assistant, Alex Williams.

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