Nature Reserve Work Interrupted

Volunteers worked very hard on the maintenance of the small Hassocks nature reserve named Talbot Field in very wet and muddy conditions until March this year. Due to the progressive advance of Covid-19 working practices had been modified to include volunteers arriving on site separately, social distancing whilst working, wearing gloves at all times and with all tools used by individuals disinfected after every session. This worked well in the open air environment and volunteers observed the measures easily without it impacting on their enjoyment or ability to carry out their tasks until late March when the Government imposed ‘lockdown’ and all work ceased.

Normally our reports are written when a particular seasonal activity has been completed but in this case with this not having been possible the task has been described up to the point of interruption. Hopefully when the restrictions are eased further we can resume the precautions we were previously taking and return to site to complete the work.

We began the task at this site in January. The weather had been extremely wet for several months and the ground was waterlogged in many places. This made working difficult. Many volunteers attended despite the conditions and a lot of brush clearance and renovation work was completed.

The aim was to complete this activity before spring to give the spring flowers clear space to flourish and bloom. It took many weeks to remove the brush and a lot of volunteer effort to rake and pile up the cuttings. This was finally completed and piles of debris were locally stacked all around the site. We were in the process of transporting these piles to a central stack at the rear of the site where they would be burnt. Unfortunately ‘lockdown’ occurred before we could complete the process by the end of March so the site was left with many piles remaining.

Local people close to the site reported that the bluebells and other flowers that emerged later in the cleared ground looked wonderful despite the heaps we had left. We unfortunately missed the display this year due to our enforced absence but the safety of members is more important.

The work progressed over several months so the following pictures will record the people who regularly attended and work achieved.


The brush was progressively cleared.


The raking of cuttings began.


Teams of volunteers tackled the task.


The result at the end of each session was clear to see with the piles of debris stacked tidily for later removal.


The work was continued weekly.


The collective effort began to yield results.


We are very grateful to the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers and especially to the young woman pictured above on the left, who often travelled from Hove to Hassocks by train to join us.


Two of our volunteers taking a well-earned break.


The meadow area was also tackled.


Despite the hard work our helpers always appeared happy knowing that their effort was benefiting nature.


In the open air and the sunshine most found the experience rewarding.


All worked extremely hard until the coronavirus lockdown when we were forced to discontinue our activities.


The clearance and raking had been completed but the piles remained in position as we had been unable to dispose of them.


However, the site today shows the results of our effort with new growth abounding.


Hopefully when the virus pandemic subsides and it is once again safe to resume our activities, we will return to finish our work and to plant the wildflower plugs that Hassocks Parish Council, at our request, kindly purchased for us to enrich the meadow.