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(The report given by Nikki Gibson, Chair, The Friends of the Wick Country Park to the AGM, December 13th 2015)

Welcome everyone!

2015 has been a very good year for the Friends. It started on a very positive note with a leaflet drop which was a joint enterprise with Richard and Alaric from the committee and Temme English, the local Estate Agents, to whom we are most grateful.

Next we had a working party to clear litter from the lake, not a glamourous task but great fun if you fancy yourself in waders, and of course important conservation work.

The Annual Quiz in March was as popular as ever. Tickets sold quickly and we had a full house, which, with the raffle, meant it made a good contribution to our funds.

On a lovely sunny morning in April, 28 people set out with Martin Singleton as their guide on our Bird Song Walk to see how many different birds they could spot in the Park and were rewarded with sightings of 22 different species.

Also in April was the first of the two 3K Skylark Races. With 77 runners this was the biggest turn-out since the event was first held back in 2010. This was soon surpassed by 80 participants in July. Both events were very competently organised by committee member Peter Bates and Pitsea Running Club.

Paws in the Park attracts our largest crowd of families and dogs. This year we had, for the first time the Essex Flyball team to entertain us. This demonstration was very popular particularly as dogs and owners had a chance to have-a-go themselves, and we hope to invite them back again next year.

For many people, Nature Quest is their favourite event on the Parks calendar, combining as it does children and wildlife. It is a great community day with many volunteers helping to introduce children to all sorts of nature-related activities.

Before we had had time to take a breath, the committee was busy back at the Park with Crickets and Dragonflies. Armed with nets, boxes and the expertise of Mark and Martin, the children and adults were able to identify 18 species of insects - including a rare Roesels Bush Cricket.

A month later, we were back at the Park again for the Kite Festival. Sadly, a lack of wind prevented the Essex Kite Group members from flying their own larger kites, but the cleverly designed kites the children were helped to make took to the skies. This event is increasingly popular, and each year the Essex Kite Group generously gives us the materials for more and more kites. Next year it will be 150. In recent years we have been lucky enough to have the South Eastern Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club come to put on a display, which gives an additional interest to the day.

One of the highlights of the year was the cladding of the container in the car park outside, as reported here. I was particularly pleased to see that rusty old box transformed into a new wildlife habitat with an amazing green-roof. I am hoping it will become a new feature of next year's Nature Quest.

So hopefully that gives a brief outline of what the committee has been up to over the past 12 months. And how does a committee of 7 accomplish so much you may ask? By their hard work and dedication. They are a fabulous crowd, each member with their own strength, whether it is knowing how much milk we might need or always being able to produce a screwdriver at a moments notice. Each member plays a vital role and I am indebted to all of them. But regardless of their computer expertise or financial wizardry the committee could not put on any of these fabulous free events without our amazing volunteers. People who help at every event, or at just one = they are all essential, and the committee would like to extend a big thank you. And you will help again won't you?!

I canít end my report without some mention of our web-site. Continuing the good work started by Paul Clarke, Alaric has developed it to a new dimension and I understand more developments are in the pipeline in 2016.

And finally a quick word about the Wick Weeders: come rain or shine, a small but dedicated team arrive fortnightly to work in the Pavilion Garden. Just when we were beginning to win, we now have the care of the green-roof on the container to add to our tasks!

I would like to be able to name everyone who has helped to make the Park a thriving, interesting place to visit, but we would all need a lot more mulled wine. So to Mark, the committee and all the wonderful volunteers - THANK YOU!

The Friends of The Wick Country Park
December 13th 2015