Toddlers attending the new Roots Nature Play Forest School in Brightlingsea are having more fun, thanks to a grant from Brightlingsea WinterFest’s Wellbeing Fund.
A grant from the fund has meant that the forest school, held at The Lozenge nature reserve in Brightlingsea for accompanied toddlers, now has a firebowl, a kettle and a frying plate, so that the children can enjoy pancakes, have a warm drink and listen to stories around a campfire.
The forest school was set up earlier this year by Florence Peecock, who runs it alongside Tim Evans, a long-established forest school leader. Having grown up in Brightlingsea, Florence, who has a two-year-old daughter, Lila, lived in Norwich for some time before coming back to Brightlingsea, where her parents live.
Florence said: “When I moved back to Brightlingsea I realised there wasn’t a lot on offer for parents and babies.
“I decided to set up Roots Nature Play in response to the isolation I felt as a new mother. I’ve now trained as a forest school leader and, along with Tim, began running the sessions at The Lozenge.
“We have lots of different activities, all of which make the most of the beautiful natural surroundings. There is a mud kitchen, a rope bridge, a hammock and a rope swing and the children enjoy such things as bug identification and dyeing fabric with plants like blackberries.
“A big part of what I am trying to create is a community of parent and babies who can make new friends, share experiences and offer support to each other. We meet for two hours a week in nature, to go back to the basics and connect once more with the natural environment. Being in nature has been scientifically proven to improve wellbeing.
“Gathering around a fire, sharing food and drink and listening to stories all help build community spirit.
“We were delighted to receive the grant from the WinterFest Wellbeing Fund for our cooking equipment, which has added a new dimension to our forest school activities.”
The funding was one of almost 30 grants worth a total of £3,000 given this year by the WinterFest Wellbeing Fund to individuals, families, groups and organisations in Brightlingsea.
Money donated at WinterFest, the town’s annual festival of music, arts and spoken word held each February, is channelled into the Wellbeing Fund to help local people.
As well as the grant for the forest school, the Wellbeing Fund’s recent allocations for other groups include support for Brightlingsea’s Toy Library, Brightlingsea Shedders, Mending Matters, Pulse Performers, Brightlingsea’s Fresh Air Festival, a new Adult Literacy group, Brightlingsea Guides and Brightlingsea Lido’s Creative Team.
Dave Griffiths, co-founder of Brightlingsea WinterFest said: “We are very pleased that the grants from WinterFest’s Wellbeing Fund are making such a difference in the town. We have already started making plans for WinterFest 2024 and we hope it will once again be a great success, helping to banish winter gloom as well as bringing in more donations for the Wellbeing Fund.”
For more details about Brightlingsea WinterFest visit the festival’s Facebook page and its website, www.brightlingseawinterfest.co.uk