Thursday, 20 March 2014

News from the AGM

"25 Years at Paxton Pits Nature Reserve"

(Photo by Gareth Ridewood.)
On March 14th the Village Hall in Little Paxton was packed to capacity with 132 members of the Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve who had gathered for their  annual general meeting. 

It was a a landmark occasion because this year the Friends are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Nature Reserve which is managed by Huntingdonshire District Council.  Sadly the occasion also marked the end of an era at Paxton Pits because Prof. Ray Matthews MBE, the Chairman of the Friends, retired after holding the post for 12 years. 

David Butterworth (Treasurer)
With the usual business completed, Ray gave an illustrated talk about the history of the Reserve which was so informative that many in the audience thought it should be made into a book. He went back to 1981 when he helped to start a Young Ornithologists Club based at the site. Some of the youngsters who were in that group now work in nature conservation and several are still involved with the Reserve. Ray was instrumental in organising a successful campaign to get the reserve designated before it was officially opened in 1989. 

Apart from its wildlife, the outstanding feature of Paxton Pits has always been community involvement through volunteering. Trevor Gunton and Ray Matthews started to organise Voluntary Wardens from 1992 onwards and the Friends Group was formed in 1995. He concluded his talk with a look ahead, noting that in 2014 visitors will notice quite a few improvements in term of access and viewing facilities and that there will be opportunities to extend the reserve in subsequent years.


In all Ray has been heavily involved with Paxton Pits for 33 years, so you might think that he deserves a rest! In fact, he will continue to be an active trustee even after he moves to Northumberland later this year.  

Jim Stevenson, who is Huntingdonshire District Council’s Senior Ranger at Little Paxton, thanked Prof. Matthews for his massive contribution to the Reserve and the Friends, and for his friendship. To mark the occasion, Jim presented Ray with an album of photographs.
Trevor Gunton

The Friends of Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, the Rangers from Huntingdonshire District Council and the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (which is responsible for environmental education at Paxton Pits) have organised a programme of events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Reserve. Readers can find out more by visiting the Friend’s new website at 

The next event in the programme will be on Thursday March 27th  at 7:30 pm when Peter Holden MBE (who ran the Junior section of the RSPB for many years and has written several well known books on birds) will give a talk about "Birds: Their Hidden World.”

(Photo by Gareth Ridewood.)
The overall theme of this talk is ‘birds and people,’ covering a variety of topics as diverse as; Egyptian hieroglyphs, Victorian cage birds, duck decoys, early scientific studies of bird song, and other topics.

This talk will be held in the Visitors' Centre at Paxton Pits (PE19 6ET). The entrance fee is £2.00 each, pay at the door, but get there early as there are only 60 chairs.