25 Bronze dofe Third Year students started their conservation volunteering programme today on Reigate Heath local nature reserve. They spent the day working hard clearing invading trees like scots pine, with the aim of restoring the threatened lowland acid heathland habitat which has become rare because of development like roads, housing, recreation and golf courses. This group of students were outstanding in the way they engaged enthusiastically with all the activities: they listened to instructions, worked well together and improved an enormous area. They did the tradition of RGS dofe conservation proud on their very first day of conservation activities … well done!
This lowland acid heath habitat used to cover larger parts of the South East on sandstone areas like Reigate Heath. When grazing stopped trees and scrub invaded and destroyed the heathland. Restoring heathland will improve the habitat and chances for animals like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards and birds like sparrow hawks, crossbills and stonechat to thrive in our otherwise overcrowded part of the country. Reigate Heath is a SSSI – site of special scientific interest, so it is protected from development but the animals and plants still need our help.
The students worked very hard all day raking out the thick nutrient rich soil which smothers heather seeds and stops their growth. Heather likes the nutrient poor sandy soils beneath, so our students raked off the overlying “alien soil” to expose the sandy grey soils.
The students also felled selected trees including some Scots Pine and some Oak and Silver Birch. These pre-selected trees opened up significant glades and will encourage the growth of heath seedlings which have lain dormant for a hundred years.
RGS students have worked on the Heath and elsewhere for nearly 10 years and so they can truly say they have improved local habitats for the benefit of local people and wild plants and animals. We like to say RGS students “Save The World starting in their own backyard”… and they certainly helped save a little tiny bit of Surrey today!
More details here:
Many thanks, as always, to Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers who run the day.
contact Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) here http://www.racv.org.uk/
December 15 2014: Bronze dofe conservation on Redhill Common: clearing invading non-native trees and opening up clearings pathside to improve light for a greater biodiversity of species and improved habitat. The group worked hard and achieved significant improvements in the natural habitat of Redhill Common. RGS has been improving local habitats for more than 7 years now under the expert guidance of Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers. If you would like to help with active local habitat conservation then visit RACV at http://www.racv.org.uk/
Reigate Grammar saves the world… starting in our back yard!
Over 130 students embarked on their Bronze dofe expeditions 10-11 October. They walked and cycled and canoed to various campsites, scout camps and farms around the North Downs, Medway and New Forest areas. The weather was showery and there were thunderstorms overnight that woke many up. This was the largest number of students ever fielded in one expedition by RGS.
Canoe, cycle and hiking expeditions took place across Surrey during the last few days. The canoe group successfully completed their practice expedition on the Basingstoke Canal camping at Mytchett campsite. The cycle group did an great job completing their long distance adventure starting near the south coast, camping at Peas Pottage scout camp and finishing near East Grinstead. Hikers climbed Box Hill and stayed at High Ashurst. All groups coped well with the showery rainy weather. Well done!
Excellent sunny dry expedition weather both days, though cool and frosty overnight. Some 100 students undertook Bronze expeds hiking, canoe and cycling this weekend. L6 Gold award leaders helped out too and numerous staff camped out and supervised group progress. The Third Year did themselves proud and were a pleasure to organise and assist through their expeditions. They were unusually good at clearing up after themselves at camp and some groups made an effort to cook some interesting food. Some found their packs too heavy which is quite common at Bronze and hikers learn quickly to discard unnecessary or impractical items like mallets and multi-cans of fizzy drinks! Navigation was a bit hit and miss for some groups but they mostly found themselves again independently and managed to get “un-lost” by some careful map reading. The usual difficulties around Headley Heath caught some groups out on Monday but this is a good chance to learn map reading and navigation by actually doing for yourself. Well done to all the groups, staff were pleased with you and this bodes well for future expeditions. Meet Thursday for lunchtime debrief concert hall.
Elizabeth Rizzini, UK Met Office meteorologist and BBC weather presenter, presented our students with their DofE Awards last night at our annual award evening here at Reigate Grammar School. Lizzie gave an inspiring talk after presenting awards to hundreds of our students including 27 Gold Awards.
Simon Elson, our conservation day organiser from Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers, was our special guest who was there so that we could formally thank him and his team for years of outstanding outdoor education in modern local conservation.
U6 Gold Award holders gave outstanding speeches about their experiences. Very well done to the eight brave souls who gave extremely impressive and inspiring accounts of their DofE experiences: Will Appleyard, George Brill, Hugo Evans, Claire Forster, Laura Mak, Matthew Norman, Emily Ruiz and Charlotte Ward.
This year four L6 Gold students ran the entire evening and they did it superbly! Alanah Sheridan, Emma Findlater, Katy Welsh and Rosie Stanley hosted the event from start to finish and also organised displays and running order beforehand. They were pioneers of this new style of student-run event and it shows how RGS students will rise to any challenge. Well done, outstanding. They also joined DofE staff for dinner with Lizzie Rizzini afterwards.
We hope parents and students enjoyed this special evening and congratulations again to all those students for being so determined to get their award and thanks to parents for the support as well.
On Tuesday 1st April the new Bronze dofe students embarked on their first conservation day. This one was at PetridgeWood between Salfords and Earlswood. It is near the cricket pitch visible from the main road. This was an area of mixed woodland and open ground allowing certain rare native plants to thrive. Scrub encroachment has caused a loss of biodiversity and the conservation group worked hard to clear trees to recreate the diverse heath previously found here. The group worked exceptionally hard throughout the day and the RACV were most impressed, as was the local authority countryside warden who inspected our work. The team listened especially well to advice and learned a great deal about safe and efficient felling and clearing, as well as open fire safety.
Well done team, RGS saving the world again, starting in our own back yard!
The next conservation day is on Tuesday 8 July and will be to a wetland environment so be ready to get wet!
Dec 17 2013: Final Bronze conservation day at a Copse wood in Earlswood, Reigate. After a full technical briefing on techniques and reasons for coppicing woodland and a safety talk from Simon Elson (RACV) 25 students set to work on old and declining hazel and birch coppice along a path circling an ancient woodland. Working effectively in teams they successfully coppiced a long row of hazels and cleared the brashings onto a fire and stored logs and branches of different sizes for a hedge maker to come along later and use. We were joined today by local wardens from SCC and a professional hedge layer and hurdle maker who all congratulated our students on their excellent progress and attitude to the task.
Well done to all the team who have completed their dofe Bronze conservation and have been an excellent group throughout.
Mr C says… Well done Bronze students!
PARENTS AND STUDENTS… FOLLOW ALL DOFE ACTION ON OUR NEW LIVE TWITTER FEED @RGSdofe
This week sees the LAST meeting for Gold L6 training expedition planning to Wales in half term. The meeting on Thursday is compulsory to help ensure a safe and well organised late season mountain expedition to S Wales.
BRONZE 4th years will collect EXPEDITION REPORTS on Tuesday which must be finished and handed in to dofe office by this Friday 18 October half term to qualify.
All meets this week as follows:
Bronze 4th year de-brief and How to Finish Bronze meet 4-5pm Concert Hall L6 award leaders attend too.
Morocco Expedition Parents and student meeting Recital Room 7:00pm
Sign Language 4-5pm Room 12
GOLD L6 FINAL training expedition meet 1:15pm D1 compulsory attendance! Safety and emergency response, final plans and letters.
Important: L6 Gold: letters about this expedition went out last week: please check mail and get a letter (with consent form) from DofE office this week if you have not got one.
90 students set off on their Bronze qualifying walking expedition 11-12 October. Despite a calm, cool and sunny start, a MetOffice and RGSweather alert for heavy rain and strong winds quickly bore fruit with 30-40mph winds and heavy rain from lunchtime on-wards on the first day. This expedition was one of the stormiest local expeditions for some time but staff were most impressed with the fortitude and spirit shown by students in more difficult circumstances than usual.
Some groups understandably struggled with navigating and keeping their kit dry in the conditions but all battled through to the end and camped overnight in stormy woods in wet gear with gusts blowing through trees all night.
Saturday dawned bright and calm and gave groups a cool sunny finish to their expedition on Reigate Hill.
Most groups kept their site impressively clean despite the weather but a few groups could improve their camp craft with more attention to keeping all areas of camp tidy at all times, particularly keeping important kit like sleeping bags dry in foul weather and not losing important items in the dark. Navigation was generally good given the rough weather.
Well done to all on surviving some rough weather… a good training experience for Silver and Gold 😉
A successful Bronze qualifying canoe expedition also took place and I’ll post news of this soon.