After dredging the pond in September 2022 the water level slowly started to rise, and as the ducks started to return, the next focus was to start planning and costing some new duck houses with a floating island, to replace the island and dead Willow tree that was removed during the dredging project. Toward the end of the month, the team spent a few hours, removing the remains of the old duck houses that had gone completely rotten. They weighed over half a tonne so moving and disposing of the old houses was a heavy, dirty job.
In October a working party that included local villagers, Neil Weynberg, Pete Juzl, and Steve Poll carried out a range of tasks around the pond and Paul Davighi-Edwards and Nick Harper started surveying the maximum potential water depth with a laser, so they could calculate the amount of ‘rise’ needed for a floating island.
By November the water level in the pond was close to capacity and thankfully during the ‘digger-thon’ back in August a maintenance causeway had been constructed to allow easier access to the proposed floating duck houses. The idea meant that the edge of the floating structure could be reached without a wet suit and flippers!
Installing the central anchor
The first job was to install the central anchor point which meant that Paul Davighi-Edwards and Nick Harper had to venture past the end of the causeway and into the deeper water. Despite laying a track of numerous concrete blocks as stepping stones it became apparent that the water in the middle was deeper than their waders – oops – so they both ended up with every item of clothing being saturated in seconds!
On reflection and if time and weather had allowed it would have been much easier to attach the anchor point when the pond was empty, but that wouldn’t have been as much fun LOL. The anchor point, made of stainless steel was fabricated by Nick ‘Jag’ Taylor who trades as Wingnut from a unit on Malvern Road up towards the Showground so the design was a real team effort. Consisting of a rod firmly secured to the bed of the pond via some impressive spikes with a separate tube that fits over the top and is free to rise and fall with the water level. The new central floating deck would be fixed to this with the duck houses fixed in turn to the deck. This design will allow the team to rotate the whole structure around for maintenance while safely standing in ‘wader’ depth water on the causeway.
Oak Tree down
In January it was sad to see the removal of one of the mature Oak trees that sat at the side of the pond. The tree was leaning at a precarious angle so it was felt that it needed to be removed to avoid it potentially falling on the newly installed duck houses. Adrian Hope Tree Services did a great job, with input from John Pane of Upton with his impressive crane – certainly a skilled operation.
Construction of the new Duck Houses is now well underway.
By mid-January, Paul Davighi-Edwards was well underway in the construction of the fabulous Duck Houses. Paul was undertaking this bespoke build at a very favorable rate given the amount of time he was putting in and his quality of work with all things wood meant that this project was in safe hands.
A lot of research went into the design which Paul found online and the material used is called ‘Accoya’. This is a trademark for a specialized timber treatment particularly suited to wet environments, so it’s not cheap, but it is the best product to use for longevity while retaining a natural appearance.
Thanks to all the Pond volunteers
In January the Parish Council kindly hosted a ‘get together’ as a THANK YOU to all the volunteers who helped during the dredging of the pond in August/September of 2022. Paul had managed to bring along Duck House No 1 as an impromptu guest of honor and everyone was blown away by the design and build quality. 30, invited guests enjoyed a fabulous buffet organised by Alison Sparkes and a very imaginative cake decorated by Sue Adeney
It was very apt that Nick and Paul Davighi-Edwards cut the cake as at times last year they spent more time at the pond together than with their wives!
Amongst the invited guests were Linda and Stephen Atwell, two trustees from The Jasmine Charitable Foundation who were keen to sponsor a Duck House. Clearly impressed by the quality of Paul’s craftsmanship and by the community involvement in the pond, they decided to extend their offer and fund 2 duck houses!
Together with a very generous donation previously received and another shortly afterward, Nick was delighted to have quickly obtained enough funding to almost cover the cost of four of the five duck houses.
With just one more Duck house to fund Gigi Verlander took to social media along with her own contacts of friends and neighbours and set up a “go fund me” page in the hope of raising enough funds for the final duck house. Within 24 hours the 5th Duck House was fully funded and by mid-February over £2200 had been raised, made up of 57 donations from people in the village – Totally Amazing!
With all the Duck Houses funded it was decided to give the sponsors the opportunity to name them.
The 2 Duck Houses sponsored by the Jasmine Trust will be named JASMINE and POPPY, after their granddaughter.
The Duck House sponsored by Chris Thorpe will be named HOLLY after their granddaughter.
The House substantially funded by Mike and Julie Perks will be MYRTLE in memory of a former neighbor.
The final Duck House sponsored by the ‘Go fund me’ appeal will be named WILLOW, chosen from a shortlist, by the children at the village primary school, which Nick thought was a good introduction to democracy at an early age!
Here is the list of local residents who donated via the ‘Go fund me page’ or directly to Nick Harper – everyone involved is part of this very special community project and legacy.
Hanley Swan Stores, Gigi Verlander, Jan & John Hunt, Michaela and Andrew Biggs, Mike and Karol Travis, Felicity Siviter, Julia Styles, Amy Dunnett, Janet baker, Caroline Sutton, Julie Oliver, Marjorie & Michael Nelson, Carol Hutchings, Mel & Steve Poll, Marion Faron, Ursula & John Howes, Malcolm & Val Fare, Scott & Jane Whittaker, Elaine and Pete Juzl, Jackie & Neil Weynberg, Lesley Ann Davies, Claire Finch, Mary & Colin Crouch, Chris & Laura Evanson, Anonymous, Natasha Bowen, Caroline Day, Diane Symonds, B G, Anonymous, Peter Walton, Fiona Brittain, Anonymous, Anonymous, Brian and Irene Sykes, Jaye Field, Tom Webb, Kate Thomas, Marian Hawkes, Lisa Smedley, Sarah Nolan , Christopher Yates, ocelyn Adams, Joanne Watson, Robert Hutton, Paul Brazier, Colin Phipps (and family), Johnathan webb, Joe Webb, Jon Burton, Paul Smith, Val Weaver, Sharon Howe, Thomas William Hawthornthwaite, Tony Cartwright, Dafydd Gibby, Julie Elliott, Alex Segrove, Sarah Beech, Helen Staniszewski, Val and Dave Thomas, Richard & Lesley Phillips, Chris Haddy, Andrew Murtagh, Chris & Vivienne Price, Gwen Meacham, Colin Smith, Peter Badger, Lynn & Kaye.
Duck House Installation
On 24th February Nick Harper, Paul Davighi-Edwards, and Stephen Atwell, fondly named ‘Scuba Steve’, began the installation of the centre island. Although they had a good idea of what they needed to do, there was a fair bit of trial and error. Steve Gogerty, Steve Poll, and Ben Cartwright assisted with the logistics of moving the large, heavy components on the journey from Paul’s workshop to their new home in the water – they also had a health and safety brief, to keep the public aware of tools and ropes lying around the pond. Thankfully Stephen Atwell turned up with a dry suit, hence the nickname, which ended up being crucial in supporting Nick and Paul in the dinghy, which was kindly lent to the team by Ray and Viv Jepp.
You will see from the video how delighted Paul was to get the centre island secured, without falling into the water!
The team re-grouped on Sunday morning and hoped to get all 5 duck houses installed, however, it was a tricky job so only 2 were secured. Nick, Paul, ‘Scuba’ Steve, and Steve Poll returned on Monday to finish the job. Of course, being late February the weather was freezing and so was the water. Steve spent hours in the pond helping to secure each duck house with Paul hanging out of the dinghy with his drill while Nick counter-balanced the boat, like a motorcycle sidecar racer, to stop it from capsizing- it really was a TEAM effort.
Gigi Verlander provided hot coffee throughout the day along with Bacon Toasties to help warm everyone up and keep up morale.
The final result is spectacular and the village is so excited to see this new Duck House development in situ. We are now waiting for the ducks to return to take up residence and enjoy a safe and luxurious dwelling.
Nameplates will be added shortly – watch this space.