Westbury Arts Centre was delighted to welcome volunteers from Milton Keynes Green Gym on 12 October to help with the annual clearance of the 1000 year old moat in its grounds. The moat is home to a wide variety of wildlife including the protected Great Crested Newt. It becomes very overgrown, so annually vegetation is cut back to bring in light and help restart the plant growth to support wildlife diversity.
Braving the rain the volunteers piled up the logs and twigs that they had removed from the moat to create a log pile habitat for insects and newts.
Head gardener at Westbury, Suze Miller who leads a team of regular garden volunteers said: “Tasks like this are simply too big for our regular volunteers to tackle without help, so we are extremely grateful to Milton Keynes Green Gym for making quick work of a big task, especially on a cold and wet autumnal morning.“
Only a small section of the original moat at Westbury survives. A document from 1380 shows that it was crossed by a bridge with a gatehouse and enclosed the manor house, a chapel, barns, stables, gardens and a dovecote.
Milton Keynes Green Gym is a programme to enable people to improve their physical fitness and wellbeing while volunteering in conservation activities for parks, community groups and charities around Milton Keynes. (http://miltonkeynesgreengym.co.uk/)