FOUNDRY Wood is celebrating its fifth birthday – and looking forward to an eco-friendly future.
The woodland off Princes Drive in Leamington – based on the former Ford Foundry site – has been a ‘labour of love’ even before it opened in 2013.
In 2011 land owners Trilogy Developments, which also owns Morrisons supermarkets, agreed to lease the site for a peppercorn rent.
It was taken on by Arc Cic, which provides open spaces in Warwick district to help improve mental and physical wellbeing.
Since then the land has come a long way, being looked after by volunteers who have helped turn it into ‘thriving’ woodland.
When work first began on the site, it was overgrown, covered in rubbish and had not been touched in more than 60 years.
But by June 2013 work Foundry Wood was ready to open, with footpaths installed, a compost toilet and wildlife pond created and more than 400 new trees planted.
Since then volunteers – who have created charity Friends of Foundry Wood – have helped the site go from strength to strength. It now offers weekly sessions such as ecotherapy, pizza-making, singing sessions, forest schools and the occasional theatre performance.
It also boasts a play area, restored railway wagon, improved accessibility and most recently a mosaic to celebrate its fifth birthday.
But it has not all been plain sailing, after vandals targeted the woodland in 2015 and burnt down the compost toilet and damaged the refurbished railway wagon.
The outraged community quickly teamed up to raise more than £2,000 needed for repairs.
Chair of the Friends of Foundry Wood Kristie Naimo said: “Over the past five years the wood has become thriving community woodland.
“It is now open every day of the year for anyone to walk around, or just sit and enjoy the natural environment.
“We are so grateful to all those who’ve helped over the years.
“Everyone is welcome to get involved by joining the monthly volunteer days, running a workshop, being part of the daily opening and closing of the gates rota– and by attending events or simply visiting the wood.”
To celebrate its birthday the wood is hosting a tea party on Saturday (June 23) between 2pm and 4pm.
People are invited to bring a rug and an afternoon tea to share. The Friends of Foundry Wood will provide cold drinks and cake.
And now, looking to the future, the charity hopes to continue to improve on its eco-friendly work.
It wants to encourage more visitors and welcome more wildlife.
There are also plans to expand the range of activities and workshops on offer.
Visit www.foundrywood.co.uk to find out more about the events on offer and becoming a volunteer.