Nikki Hills, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Seaford Community Wildlife Officer, has become a familiar sight as she cycles around Seaford leading various community activities all with an environmental or wildlife theme.
Following a generous Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Our Heritage grant of £97,500 over two years, Sussex Wildlife Trust is delivering the Seaford Community Wildlife Project thanks to National Lottery players.
Cllr Linda Wallraven, mayor of Seaford at the time, attended the launch at Annecy Catholic Primary School in March 2018. She met Paul Gallagher, interim deputy headteacher at Annecy Primary and some of the children who have taken part in cycling or scooting to their nature-themed activities on the beach or at Seaford Head Nature Reserve.
The mayor was joined by her consort Liz Holland, Jim Howell, chairman of Seaford Natural History Society, Ryan Greaves, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s learning and engagement officer and Sussex Wildlife Trust volunteers Marion Lace and Tony Delaney, who both assist Nikki with the project.
The project will be completed in November this year and Nikki explained to Town and County magazine what she had been doing during the past 18 months.
“Children at Seaford schools like Annecy Primary are able to cycle with me and my volunteers to the beach to enjoy Wild Beach sessions,” she said.
“At the beach they learn about tides, shingle, the plants and wildlife you can find on the strandline and also about the creatures living below the waves.
“I have also been working with people of all ages from various Seaford community groups, helping them to find out about and encourage wildlife living in their patch as well as helping to develop ‘wild’ areas within school grounds.
“There is so much going on in the community in Seaford to enjoy and help local wildlife and it’s been a great experience working with local groups and introducing new people to Seaford Head Nature Reserve.
“The schools have responded really well to the project, taking part in training and getting the children out to the beach and working with us to improve their school grounds for wildlife. It’s great to hear about the trips they are running independently to explore their local wild places.”
Nikki’s visits to Seaford schools have encouraged pupils to spend time outside learning how to whittle sticks to make bug hotels, how to use a bow saw to cut wood for insect homes and how to identify the ‘mini beasts’ uncovered when looking through leaf litter and under logs in their wild area.
In addition, thanks to National Lottery players, Nikki has been able to undertake conservation work on Seaford Head Nature Reserve, make improvements to local greenspaces in the town and provide new interpretation and information about the wealth of natural heritage to be found in the town.
She has created ranger groups for young people to engage in nature conservation and provided opportunities for local groups and the community to volunteer and take part in walks, talks and wildlife activities.
Pete Crawford, director of learning and engagement at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “We are delighted to be the beneficiaries of this grant from HLF and we’d like to thank the National Lottery players who have enabled Sussex Wildlife Trust to take this project forward.
“People living in Seaford have had the opportunity to learn more about the wildlife and history on their doorstep and there is still time for them to take part in enjoyable activities to learn more about and conserve their natural heritage before the project ends in November.”
To find out more about Nikki’s community work in Seaford, call her on 07943 504479 or visit sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk and search Seaford Community Wildlife Project.