Conservation work on and around Alresford Station has played a vital role in the Essex location becoming one of the first in the country to be officially named a ‘Bee Friendly Town’.
The status has been granted by the Bee Friendly Trust, with Alresford one of six towns to receive the accolade nationally, alongside Arundel, Kenilworth, Leek, Tring, and Wimborne.
There are nine criteria that towns must meet to attain ‘Bee Friendly’ status, which includes planting up roundabouts, encouraging bee friendly schools, pubs and businesses, putting up homes for wildlife, planting wildflowers, and being pesticide-free.
To achieve this, Alresford’s main projects focused on areas near to the old station house with a wildflower area to attract bees, and other habitats created at the village allotments and playing field. A roadside verge was sown with wildflower seeds and a bee hotel was mounted on the station house wall.
The parish council and Alresford station adopters have also worked with the Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership (CRP), Greater Anglia, the local primary school, and Cobnuts Co-operative to create an extensive wildlife garden with a specially commissioned bee friendly sculpture and planting, which in 2020 earned them a Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) ‘Bees Needs Champions’ Award.
Parish council chairman and volunteer station adopter, Frank Belgrove, who received the award on behalf of the community, said: “We’re so thrilled to hear this wonderful news. So many people, young and older, in the community have played a part in encouraging pollinators to flourish in our town.
“Bees are vital to us all and this excellent award status for our community will increase awareness of their importance and help us do even more to help and support them.”
The Bee Friendly Trust, which is a Community Rail Network member and works on station projects across the UK, launched the ‘Bee Friendly Town’ initiative in 2021, with the first awards granted this year.
Dr Luke Dixon, co-founder of the trust, said: “Alresford is a wonderful example of the community coming together to make their town a greener, friendlier, uplifting place to live.
“The work in and around the station, led by committed community volunteers, makes it a delightful place to step off a train, or wait for the next one to come along.”
Jayne Sumner, of Essex & South Suffolk CRP, said: “Congratulations to everyone involved. We are pleased to have played a part through our support of the wildlife garden at the station.
“Across Essex, rail stations are becoming very important spaces where we are supporting the volunteer station adopters in creating havens for wildlife – and Alresford Station is one of the best examples of this supporting all sorts of pollinators and even becoming a refuge for slow worms.
“We look forward to continuing to work alongside the adopters at Alresford Station who have made it such a special, lovely place to be.”
The Alresford Bee Friendly Community Station Garden was one of the projects featured in our recent ‘Community rail and biodiversity’ report, which you can read here.