Welcome to the BFER newsletter
Welcome to the September newsletter!
As a dusty August comes to an end, and energy prices start to bite, I find myself not only thinking about the end of school holidays, and a return to normal routines, but also of evenings closing in, weather getting cooler again, and what I need to do to get ready for autumn.
If the summer has shown me anything, it’s that I need more water-butts, and that perhaps, I also need to rethink what plants I should have in the garden, to make it more draught tolerant. As part of that quest, I’ll be looking to Brecks plants for inspiration, as many of its rare and interesting species thrive here because it is one of the driest parts of the UK, and water is such a precious resource in this landscape.
As we continue to reveal, restore, and celebrate the watery heritage of the Brecks that has had such a strong influence on this dry landscape, this month’s newsletter highlights more of the key activities delivered by the BFER partnership. This includes details of the great work being carried out by NWT to restore unique Pingo ponds, as well as the young people engaging with cutting edge environment DNA surveying with help from the Freshwater Habitats Trust. We’ve also been busy engaging with local communities and families with heritage and the great outdoors through a wide variety of events and activities, and we hope to make heritage information even more accessible with the start of our new digital interpretation project.
Finally, I should also say that as we pass the halfway point of the scheme it’s time for a review of activities. I’m delighted to say that Glevum Consulting will be supporting us through this process throughout the second half of the scheme and will be talking to many of our partners and participants over the coming weeks to see how we’re doing, and how we can improve.
BFER Scheme Manager
Meet our newest member
Tracy Harrison – Project Officer
Tracy has a background in education, working with a wide range of delivery partners, diverse audiences in and with education settings over the past 30 years. She has worked in several local authorities in Kent, South East London and Norfolk, in schools, colleges, and in early years settings
She moved from Kent to live in The Brecks in the Summer of 2021 and is enjoying all that the slower life has to offer including working three days a week for BFER. Passionate about making a positive difference to heritage, and for communities in the Brecks to celebrate its diverse landscape and history, she is able to apply her experience and support the team in the delivery of the projects to leave a legacy for the partnership.
Click here to see our ‘Meet the Team’ page on our website
1.5 – Lost Ponds: Reinstating Ghost Pingos
Photo credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust
After a wet winter in 2021 delaying this project until the summer, excavation at Watering Farm continued again last month after five ponds had been excavated last year. There is a possible 20 pingos believed to be located on Watering Farm and this project hopes to restore them.
The excavation organised by UCL and Norfolk Wildlife Trust was aided by local geologists and historians from the Norfolk Geodiversity Partnership who were looking at the different layers of sediments and hoping to uncover more information on these ancient ponds.
2.5 – Digital Interpretation: Heritage Hotspots
We are delighted to announce we have awarded our Heritage Hotspots project jointly to InfoPoint and Wessex Archaeology! They are now busy assembling the hotspots themselves and working with our partners to put together the content that will be available. We are excited to be able to provide information on the heritage and culture of the Brecks in remote areas where there is otherwise no connectivity, and bring the landscapes to life.
3.1 – Citizen Science: Testing the Waters
Last months newsletter we mentioned that all the eDNA testing had been completed. We are still awaiting the results back from Nature Metrics, so in the meantime here is a short video highlighting the schools aspect of the project. We also ran a competition with the schools on who can draw a perfect wildlife pond, watch till the end to see the winner.
4.4 – Healing Waters
 In August, BFER joined forces once more with Run Breckland, who hosted a 2K and 5K Riverside Run in Mildenhall. Despite the warm weather, 37 runners braved the heat to take part, with 19 volunteer marshals on hand to assist and cheer the runners on.
“Honestly love these runs! I can’t believe how cheap it is to enter with the amazing medal you get at the end! It is such a lovely atmosphere from runners/volunteers and organisers! I would absolutely recommend these events to any runner, jogger, or Walker – experienced, or just starting out!” Participant runner
Follow Run Breckland on Facebook (@BrecklandForestRuns) to find out about their upcoming events at our BFER partner sites, including a 5k and 10k run at RSPB Lakenheath Fen Nature Reserve, and a marathon and half marathon at the Euston Estate.
 During the school summer holidays, BFER worked with Bush Adventures to host have-a-go paddle sport taster events at Brandon and Mildenhall. At each event, fully funded inclusive canoeing taster sessions were offered to families, groups, and individuals, creating engagement opportunities for those facing participation barriers.
4.5 – Volunteer and Engagement Programme
 In August, BFER partner Thetford Town Council hosted a river celebration as part of a weekend wide literary event, the Creative Carnival
. Activities spanned across the town, including a creative writing session with Padmacandra (Illustrator of the Tale of the Whale
), a Wind in the Willows
children’s drama workshop, and a riverside performance by the Thetford Writing Group. BFER showcased a trail of artworks made by pupils from The Bishop’s CE Primary Academy, which were created through the BFER supported project, Little Ouse Little Doors
 We explored the nocturnal nightlife of Barnhamcross Common with a Guided Bat Walk, led by Jane Harris from the Norfolk and Norwich Bat Group. The walkers listened to bats using bat detectors, encountering an array of bats across the Common and alongside the River Little Ouse, including Pipistrelles, Noctules, and Daubentons.
 We learnt about the history and properties of the common nettle at RSPB Lakenheath Fen, with forager and bush-craft enthusiast Jon Tyler. Guided by Jon, the participating group explored the reserve, learnt how to create and plait nettle cordage, and sampled homemade nettle beer and nettle pesto.
BFER Volunteer Opportunities
Become a BFER Events Volunteer:
We are looking for volunteers to assist us at our exciting range of BFER events!
As an Events Volunteer, you will be helping the BFER team to celebrate the fascinating freshwater habitats of the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecks. Whether it’s the history, the unique biodiversity, natural tranquillity, or activity opportunities, we are looking for volunteers to assist us in advocating the Brecks and the work of the BFER scheme to wide audiences. As an Events Volunteer, you be given opportunities to assist at BFER events, from setting up, greeting and talking to the public, to running activities. These could include community events, children’s activities, outdoor swimming events, and information stalls.
: Various (dependent on the event). Reasonable out of pocket expenses will be offered.
Required skills and abilities
: No required skills but volunteers should enjoy engaging with the public.
: Various (This is a flexible volunteer offer. Dates of events will be circulated to all events volunteers to choose from).
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join our new team of BFER Blog Writers:
Would you like to write content for a BFER blog? Whether you want to write about the history of an area in the Brecks, celebrate local wildlife, talk about your experiences of outdoor activities such as paddle sports or outdoor swimming, or simply share what makes the Brecks special to you, we would love to hear from you! Blogging Volunteers would have flexibility to choose the topic of their Brecks blog post, and no prior experience is required.
Dates/times: Flexible. Volunteers will be asked to produce at least one blog post.
Contact details: email@example.com
The Icknield Way Association is looking for more members, officers, and wardens. They need your support as the Association continues to be the only voluntary organisation looking after the interests of the route as a whole, monitoring any actions that may threaten its integrity. They work in co-operation with highway authorities and other stakeholders with an interest in the route to carry out improvements. The Association co-ordinates a team of voluntary local wardens who are its ‘eyes and ears’ along the route.
Further information on officer & warden opportunities: Join Us – Icknield Way Path
Our Partners below are recruiting volunteers for a variety of exciting projects in the Brecks:
Bush Adventures UK – Events Volunteers and Garden Volunteers
Charles Burrell Museum – Front of House Volunteer, Main Display Area Guide, Café Staff and Engine Specific Volunteer
Tales from the River – Research Volunteer
Run Breckland – Volunteer Marshals
Little Ouse Headwaters Project (LOHP) – Practical Conservation Volunteer
For more information on the opportunities visit: https://brecks.org/bfer/resources/volunteer-hub/
If you are recruiting volunteers in the Brecks area and would like to advertise your opportunities here, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are really excited to share with you some of the wonderful outdoor events and activities that are in the pipeline.
Outdoor Swim Event: Serious and fun races and activities for all ages: 4th September various times
It will be a safe and friendly session with qualified lifeguards and experienced swimmer volunteers, at the lovely Lynford Water public lake (authorised Forestry England).
Outdoor Swim Intro for Adults and 13 plus: 4th September various times
Come and have a go and learn how to enjoy water safely at Lynford Water (approved by Forestry England) in a safe and friendly session with lifeguards, volunteers
Youth Photography Workshop: 17th September 10am – 4pm
An opportunity for children aged 10-16 years to join us at West Stow Country Park and develop their photography skills and explore the beautiful landscape in this seasonal photography workshop with local photographer; Phil Morley.
Photography Workshop for Adults: 18th September 10am – 4pm
Photography Workshop for Adults at West Stow Country Park. Develop your photography skills and explore the beautiful landscape in this seasonal photography workshop with local photographer, Phil Morley.
Intro to Watercolour Workshop: 24th September 10am – 1pm
An opportunity to learn and paint with watercolours in the beautiful West Stow Country Park
Intermediate Watercolour Workshop: 24th September 1pm – 4pm
Develop your watercolour painting skills in the beautiful West Stow Country Park
For more information on the events: Click here to view our events page
|Do you have an event you would like us to promote on our newsletter, on our website, or across our social media pages?
Please complete the form for us to share your event:
Event detail form
In Other News!
Our Tuesday Takeover radio show on BBC Radio Norfolk & Suffolk went live earlier last month. We also had a repeat of the show on Bank Holiday Monday.
If you have not listened, you have 8 days left to do so!
Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0clcp0c