Volunteer raises thousands after vandals attack boardwalk

8th June 2021

A volunteer at the Avenue Country Park in Chesterfield has gone above and beyond after vandals set the boardwalk on the park alight.

Firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, but sadly the boardwalk was destroyed on Saturday 5 June, sparking anger amongst the local community.

One of the park’s many dedicated volunteers, Stephanie Duffy, quickly set up an online funding plea which raised over £3,000 in one day.

Stephanie said: “Every weekend myself and countless other people enjoy a visit to the Avenue Nature Reserve and Washlands in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

“This decking was built completely by volunteers and it provided great access to the water, allowing visitors to watch the ducks and little ducklings that call the pond home.

“I am hoping to raise money to donate to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, so we can buy replacement decking and rebuild the pathway, allowing visitors to enjoy this area of the reserve once more!”

Thankfully none of the birds who inhabit the pond were harmed in the fire.

The Avenue Country Park transferred to the ownership and management of the Land Trust in 2019. Although the site’s official opening in March 2020 was postponed due to Covid-19, the transformation of the former coking works into a country park has provided the local community with a vital source of nature over the last 18 months.

The site, along with the nearby Avenue Washlands, is managed in partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who have helped create a space which is now a community asset clearly valued by the community.

Charles Langtree, Estates Manager for the Land Trust, said:

“I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this mindless vandalism. However it is has been very heartening to see the response from the local community and with the help of these funds we will now be working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to clean up and restore it to its former glory.”

Donations have now reached nearly £4,000. Wingerworth JSA, a local football team, donated £100 and said:

“The Avenue is used by hundreds of our young footballers every week and this beautiful piece of our community is a fantastic facility. Mindless vandalism like this continues to push a bad light onto the many outstanding children and young people we engage with every single session. The Wildlife Trust do an amazing job and long may their work continue.”

Councillor Ross Shipman is calling on local councils to find funding to put on diversionary activities for young people in local parishes to try and engage with young people with the aim of preventing future incidents.

If you would like to donate to the Go.Fund.Me set up to repair the boardwalk, click here.

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