Wild about Benson

Wild about Benson

An article from Val Siddiqui, Benson Nature Group

“Brilliant, beautiful”

“I couldn’t bear to tear myself away as it was SO interesting…… Such a great event and so inspiring for all ages.”


856 people visited “Wild about Benson” on 8 – 9th March and these comments were typical.


In his opening address Dr William Bird, local GP and pioneer of the “Green Gym” and “Walking for Health”, reminded us that we are all part of nature. Key messages were: being in nature reduces stress, loneliness, allergies, ADHD and more; government is encouraging “social green prescribing” to improve our physical and mental well-being; nature needs communities to care about it and leave it in a better state for future generations, so it can care for us; with sympathetic planning and land management, nature can co-exist with farming and development.


There were 69 entries in the photography competition, with the winning entries on display. The overall winner was Kevin Reynolds, whose picture of a dandelion (shown) mesmerised the judges. It was the winner of the macro category. It was an extremely hard decision for the judges, but Kevin’s photo took a simple subject and brought out every detail. Composition was great and the technique to get the focus spot-on throughout the depth of the subject was a masterclass in macro photography.  Congratulations Kevin.


The category winners were: Primary School – Madeleine Montgomery; Secondary School – Daniel Snellgrove; Nature in the Landscape – Nicola Beasley; Animals – Nicola Beasley; Plants and Fungi – Simon Booker.  Visit our BNG website: https://www.bensonnaturegroup.com/ to see the winning entries.


25 of the 51 stands were by the BNG team themselves, covering our project areas – restoring the brook, surveying farmland and wetland birds, citizen science and recording together with nature in the built environment. 24 other organisations and local groups showcased the green spaces within our parishes and efforts being made to protect nature.  An interesting stand by Crowmarsh Battle Farms provided a valuable insight into producing food at the same time as protecting nature. Microscopes enabled people to see the “mini- beasts” that make our soils healthy and productive. And a very popular stand by the Owl Conservation Project, with four beautiful captive-bred native owls, showed their work to halt their decline.


There were also various children’s activities including a nature table with feathers, skulls and other artefacts, a treasure hunt and quizzes. And 80+ posters by pupils of Benson Primary School were on display throughout.


Our volunteers played a vital role with Shirley, Louise, Phoebe and Carolyn helping with the catering as well as Stanley, Charlie and Julie who counted people into the event. Our thanks to all of you.


This event had been months in the planning. We will now focus on our programme for the rest of the year.


Val Siddiqui

12th March 2024