It has been announced that the Countess of Wessex will open the Nower Wood Education Centre on 20th April. The centre, near Leatherhead, is the Flagship Centre of Surrey Wildlife Trust and will be used from the week of the opening as a facility for children to learn in a practical hands-on way about nature. In addition to using the marvellous new centre, children will be able to go out into the wood on everything from walks through the bluebells to bug hunts and pond dipping. The centre has also been designed so that those with special educational needs or disabilities may also learn and enjoy their time in the countryside.
Aimee Clarke, Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Director for Education, said in a local newspaper, “We’re really excited that we’re now so close to being able to finally open the doors of our wonderful new education centre and we’re honoured to be able to welcome Her Royal Highness as our very first official visitor. We hope the new facilities in the heart of Nower Wood will encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to come and get closer to nature in such a beautiful woodland setting.”
The educational centre will be the third centre owned by the Trust, and the £1.1 million cost has been financed by a lottery grant and generous donations from local companies including the Veolia Educational Trust and Toyota GB. The site of nearly 34 hectares has been with the Trust since the 1970s, but its history can be traced back to the Domesday Book as an ancient oak woodland. Since the site was taken over and conservation has replaced the previous uses of game-keeping and timber, a mosaic of habitats has been created and taken advantage of. There have been many sightings of birds and animals including sparrow-hawks, woodpeckers, roe deer and badgers.
With her interest in activities involving children with her work with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, no doubt the Countess will take an active interest in all the facilities the new centre is providing.