Thursday, 28 July 2011

St Mary’s Church Moorsholm - A Community Wildlife Garden

Ken Gillance, Secretary of Moorsholm PCC, tells the story of St Mary’s Moorsholm's wildlife garden.

Lying on the northern edge of the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors National Park, midway between Whitby and Middlesbrough, Moorsholm is home to a community of around 370 people – a mixture of local farming families, commuters working mainly in the Teesside conurbation and retired people. St Mary’s Church stands in the centre of the village with a large churchyard burial ground which now extends into the grounds of the neighbouring Church Hall. It demands a great deal of labour to maintain it to a satisfactory standard and three years ago when the small PCC could no longer cope they appealed to the community for help. Rescue was at hand. An enthusiastic group of community volunteers came forward and joined in the task with enthusiasm. Initially devoting regular Tuesday mornings to work in the churchyard, the team has now taken on the care of the whole village, including conservation projects.

The work at first involved regularly mowing the grass and holding back nature’s threat to create a wilderness. Someone suggested that a wilderness can be a place of beauty. In December 2009 we were advised by the Assistant Diocesan Secretary that 2011 was to be the “Diocesan Year of the Environment” and parishes were asked to focus on initiatives to help in reducing “Carbon Footprints” and conserving wild life habitat. We responded and called in Dr Sue Antrobus of Tees Valley Wild Life Trust, an expert on churchyards. Following her survey and report we began to appreciate the value of what we already had, particularly the many wild flowers and grasses which were inhibited by constant mowing but still present. Realising the potential for creating a wild life haven we called on Martin Allen of Wildflower Ark in Middlesbrough who surveyed and advised on the nurturing and improvement of the existing wealth of native plants. We were to create small areas of the churchyard where mowing would not take place until July or later, corresponding with the bygone days of ‘hay time’ mowing, allowing the wildflowers to mature and seed before being cut back.

This required sensitive handling since many who visit the churchyard to visit graves, like it neat and tidy, and conservation areas are seen by some as untidy. Appropriate discussions within the community identified areas which could be used as ‘conservation areas’ and not mown until mid-summer. In the second year of the project we are discreetly enlarging the wild life plots. So far we have not received any complaint about the conservation areas.

The existing wildflowers are now beginning to re-appear with ox-eye daisies, cowslips, and the latest – a small colony of hare bells.

We have also placed bird boxes across the churchyard, including the Archbishop’s gift which is set high in our Weeping Ash and presently houses a family of fledgling tree sparrows.

The roof at the East Gable of the Church houses a colony of wild honey bees which have been reproducing and swarming there for the past 30 years or so. To help sustain them we have recently planted a collection of ivy, cotoneaster (firethorn) and similar climbing pants which are late flowering or of special value to bees and hoverflies.

Our latest innovation is the establishment of a Quiet or Sensory Garden in the Church Hall lawn. This required a Faculty granted in December last and the planting of the garden has just been completed with a wide variety of flowering plants and wildflowers which are now beginning to bloom. It is hoped that this will provide a more accessible source of nectar for the bees as well as a place of beauty and quiet for all who visit St Mary’s Church and Wild Life Garden.

A rain water butt has been installed at the Church Hall to provide water for the Quiet Garden. Composting bins have been built at the bottom of the churchyard in which we can recycle all the grass-cuttings and all the fallen leaves from the large sycamore and ash which line the churchyard walls.

Ken Gillance, Secretary of Moorsholm PCC

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

News on "Smart Meters"

The BBC website has news on the effectiveness of installing smart meters in properties a a means of encouraging consumers to cut down their use of electricity and gas.  Smart Meter savings 'uncertain' says Audit Office.  This will not be a surprise to many - if people do not make any connections in their mind other than consumption and cost there is probably little incentive to cut back consumption.

Graham Andrews

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Climate Change - Bearing Witness

On Saturday 1st October, the eve of the Conservative Party Conference, supporters from around the UK will be joining Christian Aid, Cafod and Tearfund in Manchester for a day of learning, campaigning and worship on the issues of climate change and global poverty.

Speakers from around the world will come together to discuss global issues with a focus on the damaging effects of climate change on the world’s poorest communities. They will include former president of the South African Council of Churches, activist and theologian, Prof. Tinyiko Maluleke, who will speak on how the global church and Christians can lead action on climate change.

After the speakers and a special ecumenical service in the Anglican Cathedral, attendees will form a procession to the conference centre, where the Conservative Party Conference will be taking place, and will hold a candlelit vigil to pray for the government not to forget the world’s poor during its conference.

By taking a stand in Manchester on this day, organisers and supporters hope to remind the Conservatives of David Cameron’s promise to be the ‘greenest government ever’. The world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are already suffering the impacts of climate change and are being hit first and hardest, despite doing the least to cause the problem. Now is the time to reflect on what the government has achieved so far, but also to remind them of their pledge and encourage them to do more to help these communities.

If you would like to join the ‘Bearing Witness’ event, or you would like further information, you can register at or call the Christian Aid’s Yorkshire office on 0113 244 4764.

Eleanor Course

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Save our seas

In the Diocese of York, many of our towns and villages sit on the coast of the North Sea. Twelve Wildlife Trusts (including Tees Valley and Yorkshire), located across the East coast of England have teamed up to promote protection of the North Sea's weird and wonderful marine wildlife, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales.

Visit the the North Sea Wildlife website to discover what they do , and what you can do to help protect our seas – their tips include:
  • Getting outside - Take some time out and discover your local marine life. Why not take a trip to your local coastline and discover what's around you. Look in a rockpool, go for a walk or just sit and have an ice cream watching the waves roll in. Discover what's out there and why it's important, discover its value to you.
  • In the home - Making changes to your everyday lifestyle can reduce your personal impact on our environment. Use environmentally friendly detergents and avoid toxic chemicals in your home and garden. Reduce, reuse and recycle your rubbish and watch what you flush. Every year hundreds of thousands of used cotton buds end up on our beaches after being flushed down the toilet!
  • Eating right - Watch what you eat and buy only seasonal and locally caught fish that hasn't been over-fishing or captured through methods which cause harm to the environment. Check the labels for details or how and where your seafood has been caught, if it's not clear, ask the fishmonger for details. Supermarkets are becoming more and more aware of the need to stock sustainably caught seafood. Do not be afraid to ask for their help in choosing what to buy. 
Eleanor Course

Friday, 8 July 2011

World Oceans Day

Water pollution not only affects people, but also our environment. 8th July is “World Oceans Day”, which is an opportunity to focus special attention on our world's shared oceans. We can celebrate our personal connection to the sea as well as to raise awareness about the crucial role the ocean plays in our lives and the increasingly critical need for each of us to help conserve its wonders and resources. Visit the World Oceans Day website for more ideas and information on how we can save our seas.

Eleanor Course

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bishopthorpe is ‘Blooming Lovely’

As part of his Year of the Environment celebrations, the Archbishop of York today has invited people to view online the Summer update from Bishopthorpe Gardens.

The section entitled ‘Summer at Bishopthorpe Gardens’ can be viewed at

This is the second of four seasonal updates about the flora and fauna habitats within Bishopthorpe Palace. It is hoped that this resource will not only appeal to gardening enthusiasts and 'twitchers' but all those with a general interest in the environment.

Written by the Head Gardener, it features the flowerbeds in full bloom, news that the Minster Rose is on its way to Bishopthorpe and the planting of six Wellingtonia Redwoods. The Palace Grounds have also recently been designated a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “It is thanks to the efforts of the gardeners that the grounds continue to look so good. In summer, there is always so much colour in the garden, which is a joy to see”

Eleanor Course 

Toilet Twinning

If you watched Elizabeth’s story and want to help people get access to adequate sanitation, why not twin your toilet? Tearfund and Cord run a Toilet Twinning initiative to help some of the 2.6 billion people who don’t have a safe toilet.

For £60, you can twin your toilet at home, school or church with a latrine in Africa. You'll receive a framed certificate of your toilet's twin, containing a photo, the latrine's location and its GPS coordinates so you can look it up on Google Maps.

Tearfund and Cord will use the money raised to help households have their own loo; enjoy better health; go to school and work; and fund other projects to alleviate poverty around the world.

Since the launch of Toilet Twinning in 2009, more than 1,600 latrines have been built in Burundi – providing safe loos for nearly 10,000 people!

You can discover more about Toilet Twinning at

Eleanor Course

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Dying for the toilet?

In 2009, Elisabeth Martin, a student from York, delivered a petition of 200 signatures on a toilet seat to 10 Downing Street to highlight the lack of progress on the Millennium Development Goal which promises to halve the number of people in the world who lack access to clean water and adequate sanitation by 2015.

Elizabeth was inspired to campaign when she worked in Uganda over the summer, leading a team who built a rainwater collection tank in a remote mountain village. Elisabeth’s team experienced life without basic amenities. She said, “For women and children, walking four hours a day to collect diseased water is normality. Girls miss school, carry phenomenal loads and are vulnerable to rape. Without basic toilets people lack dignity and safety. Talking toilets is a taboo subject but 5000 children die each day as a result of waterborne diseases.”

Watch the video to learn more about her story, and discover if our government has done anything since 2009 to halve the number of people in the world who lack access to clean water and adequate sanitation.

Eleanor Course

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


If you’re already saving water in your home, how else can you help people across the world get access to safe, clean water? You could consider supporting WaterAid. WaterAid and its partners work with individuals and families in their own communities and use a mixture of low-cost technologies to deliver lasting water, sanitation and hygiene solutions.

Watch the film to see how how WaterAid is changing people's lives through the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene education, or visit their website.

Eleanor Course

Monday, 4 July 2011

Stop wasting water

When we see that people all over the world need access to safe, clean water, what can we do? Firstly, we can stop wasting water in our own homes.

The UK has less available water per person than most other European countries. London is drier than Istanbul, and the South East of England has less water available per person than the Sudan and Syria.

Water is scarce in parts of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in England - large scale drought is already occurring in the UK, with the lowest rainfall, groundwater and reservoir levels for decades.

Each person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day. This takes into account cooking, cleaning, washing and flushing. This has been rising by 1% a year since 1930. This consumption level is not sustainable in the long-term.

If we do not take action now, climate change, population shifts and behaviour mean the UK will face increased water stress in the future.

Below are some tips on how you can save water, and you can learn more at
  • Drop a hippo in your cistern: a hippo is a device that you put in your cistern which reduces toilet flush volumes. About a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water we use in our homes is flushed down a toilet.
  • Fill up your dishwashers: Hand-washing dishes typically uses about 63 litres per session; if those dishes are rinsed off under a running tap the total water used averages 150 litres-in comparison, a modern dishwasher can use as little as 15 litres of water per cycle. But make sure you fill the dishwasher or you'll be wasting even more than if you were to wash up by hand.
  • A bath typically uses around 80 litres, while a short shower can use as little as a third of that amount. But beware since many power-showers may actually use more than a bath. You can minimise your water use by reusing your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden.
  • Before starting your washing machine, wait for a full load - a full load uses less water than two half loads; so, you'll be able to save money on energy and water.
  • Fill a jug with tap water and leave it to cool in your fridge. This way you don't have to run the tap for ages just to get a cold drink.
  • Rubbish for rubbish bins: Try to avoid flushing away cotton balls and make-up tissues - throwing them in the bin will cut down on the amount of water that is wasted by every flush.
  • You can with a watering can: Your hosepipe can spew as much as 18 litres of water a minute. By using a watering can in your garden you can significantly reduce the amount of water wasted; or consider fitting it with a trigger gun to control the flow (although during a hosepipe ban you will need to use a watering can).
  • Invest in a butt: Your roof collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year which then just runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts with free water: you could water your garden, your houseplants, or wash your car for free! 
Eleanor Course

Sunday, 3 July 2011

What’s the worry about water?

There are three main ways in which people and wildlife suffer with regards to water - drought, pollution and flood.

Of all the water on Earth, less than 1% is easily accessible freshwater for human consumption, and this water has to be shared with the natural environment. The little bit of water that we are left with is unevenly distributed in space and time, and sometimes is polluted. Over a billion people still lack access to improved water supplies, and one-third of us already live in water stressed areas.

If present levels of consumption continue, two-thirds of the global population will live in areas of water stress by 2025. Increasing human demand for water coupled with the effects of climate change mean that the future of our water supply is not secure.

Almost fifty per cent of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 884 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.

Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Children – and particularly girls – are denied their right to education because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities. Women are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water. Poor farmers and wage earners are less productive due to illness, health systems are overwhelmed and national economies suffer.

The effects of climate change can be seen in the UK and around the world. Already, British coastal waters have warmed and temperatures have risen. Globally, extreme weather is predicted to become more common – and animals, plants and crops are all expected to be badly affected.

UK coastal waters have warmed by about 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past three decades. In addition, the average sea level around the UK is now about 10 cm higher than it was in 1900.

Globally, the sea level could rise by 18 to 59 cm by the end of the century. Rising sea levels would swamp some small, low-lying island states and put millions of people in all low-lying areas at risk of flooding.

Eleanor Course

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Focus on Water

From 2nd to 10th July we're looking at water as part of the Year of the Environment. We’ll be posting ideas and stories on our website, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts looking at what you can to help more people to have safe access to clean water.

The Revd Canon Richard Rowling has written collects for the Year of the Environment – here’s the collect for water. Could you pray this throughout our period of focusing on water?

Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of water to sustain, refresh and cleanse all life.
May we who have an abundance of water see it as a precious and scarce resource.
Help us to be mindful how much is consumed so that we can live in the way that we do:
guide us to use it sparingly,
and keep us mindful of those who suffer through drought, pollution and flood.
We ask this for the sake of him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Eleanor Course