Hethersett's Environmental Action Group (HEAT) has been in existence since 2000. The group is led by George Beckford, aged 88, who last October received the Norwich Evening News Local Heroes Award of Environmental Champion of the Yea. Here George looks back at the group's history.
HEAT (the Hethersett Environmental Action Team) is a group of volunteers who got together in 2000, initially to carry out daffodil planting along the main road through the village of Hethersett. In 2001, they established themselves as HEAT and have undertaken countless jobs in addition to planting.
Although environmental improvements are their main occupation, they do not restrict such action solely to themselves. They strive to spread the work throughout the community and welcome any contributions made by others. For this reason, they have welcomed contributions from Brownies, Guides, Scouts, school children and Friends of Woodside First School. From this it will be noted that age is irrelevant. Volunteers stretch from under 10 to the high 80s.
So what work do they carry out?
Any activity designed to improve the village environment is acceptable. This includes litter picks approximately every six weeks. Gloves, litter pickers and tabards have been obtained through grants. As an illustration, one litter pick was carried out by the whole Brownie pack instead of their normal evening meeting.
As to bulb planting, this has not been restricted to roadside verges along the B1172, but in many other places in the village. As an indication of its extent, in one autumn nearly 5,000 bulbs were planted, and in the following February another 2,000 entirely different species were planted. These included snowdrops, bluebells, fritillaria, crocus, chionodoxa etc. Many plots have been dug and planted with shrubs, perennials etc. Two were solely planted with bush roses. These beds require constant attention, particularly weeding and composting, and to assist they have now spread them with bark chippings.
Other activities carried out by these volunteers ijnclude hanging baskets in the village centre, planting and maintenance of Oak Square, the making and placing of bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, the cleaning of and making surrounds to milestones, and the provision, planting and maintenance of plant boxes/tubs at the entrance to the Parish Church at Churchfields and at the Village Hall. A barrow and two tubs planted with flowers are outside the doctors' surgery (another site planted with bulbs). Planters have been provided also elsewhere. A number of wildflower and wildlife sites have been established also and are being promoted.
For the past three years, gardens open to the public have been organised, with a generous portion of the proceeds being donated to different charities. Some of the proceeds are retained to finance more improvements. In the same period, entry into Anglia in Bloom has achieved Silver and Bronze awards. This year, 16 gardens will be open to the public on Sunday 29th June from 1 p.m until 5 p.m. An information/ticket desk will be established in the Village Hall car park in Back Lane, but tickets will be available in advance from the library and the charity shop.
Work was carried out on a green owned by Saffron Housing Association with houses on three sides. Two large plots were dug and each planted with 14 shrubs and a gross of ground cover plants and, in the spaces left, lilies and alliums were planted. Also, three areas were planted with daffodils.
The big project currently undergoing is a Hethersett Green Village Campaign. Apart from normal publicity, each household received a green leaflet designed to make them think green and reduce pollution and waste, particularly energy and water. In the next few days they will receive free a cloth shopping bag with the plea to refuse plastic ones. Also an Information Day is to be held in the Village Hall on Saturday 31st May from noon until 4 p.m at which numerous bodies will provide advice/information etc, including the Energy Saving Trust and CRed from the UEA. Hopefully, a number of free gifts will be available. After this they will pursue other initiatives and seek information from residents, shops, schools, businesses etc as to steps taken by them to reduce their carbon footprint.
The Parish Council has accepted the group as one of its committees, with four members (also voluntary) appointed.
In 2001 Hethersett received the Village of the Year award, and in 2003 was highly commended. Then in 2006 the village was awarded the pride of Norfolk Award for a community in excess of 5,000 population.
All the volunteers are friends who like to work together for the benfit of the community as a whole. They do what they can, when they can.