One of Lancashire's newest nature reserves has received a generous cash donation at a vital time, when the Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the park.

Grimsargh Wetlands, situated in the village of Grimsargh, between Preston and Longridge, is made up of three former United Utilities reservoirs which provided water for the local community and industry from the mid-1800s until they were decommissioned in 2001.

In 2017, Grimsargh Wetlands Trust took over management of the wetlands which it leases from Grimsargh Parish Council, and is now responsible for promoting the conservation, protection and improvement of the nature reserve.

The Wetlands is made up of three main habitats, The Mere, The Island Lake and The Fen and has become a haven for a stunning range of wildlife, from Fieldfare, Wigeon and Shoveler to Tufted Duck.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought a number of challenges to the reserve.

The Grimsargh Wetlands Trust relies entirely on funding, donations and fundraising activities – the latter of which have been on hold due to the virus outbreak.

So a generous cash donation of more than £1,000 is set to go a long way in helping the trust continue its work at the reserve.

Staff from SUEZ recycling and recovery UK were invited to nominate charities supporting those in need in their local communities and working to improve the environment, as part of its “Giving Something Back at Christmas” fund.

At the end of 2020, Raymond Walker, Site Manager at SUEZ nominated Grimsargh Wetlands.

And now, a cash donation of £1,250 has been awarded to the trust, which will go towards improving biodiversity and the local bird population at the reserve, as well as improving access for all visitors.

Explaining why he nominated Grimsargh Wetlands Trust, Raymond said: “The Trustees have worked really hard to provide, maintain and improve this nature reserve which has proven an invaluable asset to the village, its residents and schools during the many lockdowns we have experienced.

“It provides much needed open space to help people locally to take a break and reconnect with nature, and it has been fantastic to see the number of people and families enjoying a local walk around the site over recent months.”

While Lancashire remains in lockdown with rest of England, residents are only able to leave their home for a limited number of reasons, including daily exercise. It means that local spots like the Grimsargh Wetlands have become key places for residents to visit and get out into the fresh air while the country remains under tough restrictions.

And as a volunteer-led organisation, the Trust relies entirely on public donations as well as funding from grant-giving organisations and corporate supporters like SUEZ.

Lezley Walker, Treasurer and Trustee at Grimsargh Wetlands Trust, said: "We are extremely grateful for this generous donation to our charity, particularly in these unprecedented times amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

Fellow Trustee, Andy Small, who spearheads Grimsargh Wetlands’ fundraising activities, added: “Fundraising has been very difficult due to the lack of public events and opportunities available to us throughout the pandemic. This donation will enable us to further our important work developing the nature reserve and ensuring that the wetlands is safely accessible to all, to enjoy and benefit from getting closer to nature.”

Ed Best, Regional Manager at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, said: “SUEZ is delighted to make these donations and be able to give something back to the local community. We know just how vital local charities and community groups are now more than ever and are therefore particularly pleased to be able to offer some support at this difficult time.”

SUEZ’s newly introduced annual fund is intended to support local good causes makes up part of the organisation’s wider corporate giving. This includes its partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support which recently saw SUEZ pass a significant milestone, with donations to Macmillan over the last 5 years reaching £300,000.

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