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Voting is now closed – thank you for all your support!

We have some exciting news to share with you! Our Avalon Marshes Project has reached the finals of the National Lottery Awards 2017 in the Best Environment Project  category.  We really would like YOUR help and YOUR vote to help us win.

The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, and aim to celebrate and recognise the difference that those projects have made to people, places and communities across the country.

The Avalon Marshes is competing against six other national projects, so to be in with a chance of winning £5000 to help secure the future of the project, and to feature on the BBC One television show, we need your vote to help us win!  Please support us by casting a vote on our page. Every vote counts, so we really appreciate your support!  If you could share this with your own contacts, family and friends and ask them to vote for us too that would be brilliant!

We need your vote – Please vote here

Why Vote for us?

Naturalist, author and TV producer Stephen Moss tells us why the Avalon Marshes is one of the very best lowland wetlands in Britain – Follow this link to You Tube


What we have achieved so far

As I’m sure you already appreciate, the Avalon Marshes is one of the finest remaining lowland wetlands in Britain and a very special part of the Somerset Levels and Moors landscape.  It incorporates a variety of valuable wildlife habitats, which are of huge international importance for migrating birds that fly in each spring and autumn to join the ducks, waders and other animals that live here all year.  Visitors come from far and wide here to see our “Big Three”: Marsh Harrier, Bittern and the Great White Egret; winter also draws the crowds for the amazing sights and sounds of the Starling murmurations.   Underpinning this is 10,000 years of human history, giving the area its rich archaeological heritage – with Glastonbury Tor serving as the perfect backdrop – including ancient trackways, such as the famous Sweet Track, Iron Age lake villages and its more recent peat history.

Smiles at event / Meare Fish House / Kingfisher

The amount that the Avalon Marshes project has been able to achieve over four years thanks to lottery funding is quite remarkable.  This, teamed with the help of dedicated staff from all the partner organisations involved, amazing volunteers, passionate supporters and committed communities, we’ve been able to massively improve access to the nature reserves, provide new bird hides, create discovery trails, historic reconstructions and visitor facilities, run inspiring events across the project area, and provide education and training resources which have benefited volunteers, schools, colleges, visitors and the local community.

Through the project the wider public have really started to understand the value and significance of this unique place.  This award gives us the opportunity to gain national recognition of the work going on here, and would help us to maintain it as a safe site for wildlife, and an inspiring place for people.  To help secure a healthy future for this special place, WE NEED YOUR VOTE!

Thank you in advance

The Avalon Marshes Team


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“At the end of May we were very sad to lose our two wonderful apprentices Adam Kasik and Seb Mepham. They have been an incredible asset to the team during their time with us, worked very hard on our reserves and most importantly shared our very special brand of Shapwick Heath NNR humour. We hope we taught them a thing or two along the way as well.

The good news is they have both walked into fantastic jobs, Adam as Brue Valley Reserves Assistant with the Somerset Wildlife Trust and Seb as Natural England’s Reserves Warden for Parsonage Down Farm in Wiltshire.

We saw them off in true Shapwick Heath style with a surprise hazard-tape opening of Adam’s Discovery trail viewing area (fondly known as the ‘sinking pit’) and the presentation of their very own commemorative giant pasties to savour and treasure.”

Natural England

The Discovery Trail

Adams’ final project was final completion of the extended Discovery Trail;  the viewing area and associated pond-dipping platform. The trail provides an easy access route and educational resource at the Ashcott Corner end of Shapwick Heath NNR.

Breeding Bird Survey

Seb’s final project was the important breeding bird survey of Shapwick Heath. The last survey was done way back in 2009. The completion of this new survey has given a much richer understanding of bird’s behaviour on the reserve and potential indicators of populations.

Heritage Lottery Funded

Seb’s apprenticeship was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership Project. During his time as an apprentice he has worked with the RSPB and Somerset Wildlife Trust as well as Natural England. Adam’s post was funded by Natural England as part of their wider policy of providing training for the future.

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A celebration of Somerset’s heritage is taking place at Somerset Rural Life Museum when it re-opens on Saturday 3 June. Local people are invited to join the South West Heritage Trust for opening day at the refurbished Museum, which tells the rich story of Somerset’s rural and social history.

The day will begin with an opening ceremony at 11.00 am. It will mark 100 years since George and Louisa Mapstone took the tenancy of Abbey Farm in 1917. Their granddaughter, Margaret Shreeve, who grew up on the farm, will be part of the opening ceremony. She will be joined by children from Elmhurst Junior School in Street. Based on Margaret’s recollections of farm life the children have created a painting which is on permanent display in the Museum.

Following the ceremony, the Museum will be open for the first visitors to explore the new galleries in the farmhouse and former cowsheds, as well as to see the farmyard, the orchard and the magnificent 14th-century Abbey Barn. There will be traditional village games, music, and delicious local food to enjoy. Families can discover the history of the farm on a fun family trail around the site. Visitors will also be able to enjoy the museum’s first exhibition, ‘FARM’, a collection of paintings and drawings by local artist Kate Lynch who will be there on the day.

The Museum is re-opening following completion of a £2.4 million redevelopment project led by the Trust. Visitors to the Glastonbury museum will be able to explore rural life from the 1800s onwards and discover more about the county’s heritage including its landscape, food and farming, working life and rural crafts.

To mark the opening weekend the Trust is offering special free admission on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 June. The Museum, on Chilkwell Street, will be open from 11.00 am on Saturday and 10.00 am on Sunday and closes at 5.00 pm.

The redevelopment project was chiefly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Viridor Credits Environmental Company, Somerset County Council, the Garfield Weston Foundation and other generous funders. The Trust is also most grateful to Somerset Building Preservation Trust and the Friends of the Somerset Rural Life Museum for their consistent support. Building work was undertaken by Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd.

Inside view of Rural Life Museum