Hazel Hill Trust (HHT) is a registered charity, formed in 2015 to own and operate Hazel Hill Wood. This is an introduction to the aims and activities of the Trust.
The overall aim and vision of Hazel Hill Trust is to promote wellbeing, resilience and sustainability: for individuals, society and the natural world. Enabling people to engage more deeply with nature, especially woodlands, will be a major means of fulfilling this aim, including the operation of Hazel Hill Wood as a demonstration and education centre.
The vision for Hazel Hill Wood, as agreed in our November 2013 review, is:
Our intention is to respect and serve this land as a place sacred to nature.
To maintain and enhance a sustainable and diverse eco-system.
To offer a place of peace and privacy where people can nourish their connection with the land, themselves and each other.
To build harmonious and inclusive community through transformative teaching and learning in the presence of nature.
- Hazel Hill Wood Education: the wood currently hosts around 60 events per year, involving around 1000 people in total. These events range from residential weekends to 2-hour groups for local people. Many events are delivered by the Hazel Hill Education team and the Wisdom Tree team (see below). Some are delivered by partner organisations whose events are coordinated as part of the overall programme.
There is great variety in the client groups, themes and activities offered at Hazel Hill. The underlying aim is to enable people to improve their wellbeing and resilience by deeper contact with nature. Whilst open events are listed on the Hazel Hill website, many groups at the wood are not listed as they are private bookings, for example school groups and other organisations. Here are a few examples of events at the wood:
- A wellbeing day for children from a local primary school
- A weekend on how to learn resilience skills from nature
- A training programme for social entrepreneurs
- A conservation day for local people experiencing depression or bereavement
Wisdom Tree is a separate but related organisation: a small group of freelance professionals offering resilience and wellbeing programmes for individuals and work and community organisations. The main focus of this work is Nourishing the Front Line: events to support people working in health, care, public sector, charity and other demanding service roles. Hazel Hill is a key venue for much of this work. The Wisdom Tree team includes Marcos Frangos and Alan Heeks, and HHT is helping fund this work. See more at www.wisdomtree.uk.net
- Hazel Hill Wood: Conservation and Forestry
Hazel Hill is a highly varied 70-acre wood, with diverse habits and abundant wildlife, including some rare butterflies. Regular conservation days and weekends are essential in sustaining all this. The wood is also managed for sustainable, productive forestry, and has some good stands of oak, beech and pine.
- Hazel Hill Wood: Facilities
The wood has a range of timber buildings, largely using timber from the wood. There are indoor and outdoor group spaces, and residential and cooking facilities for groups up to 30 people. These facilities are almost entirely off-grid, with two different electrical systems, four types of compost toilets, a reed bed for greywater, and all heating by firewood from the wood.
- Other Projects
The vision for the Trust gives it a remit to support or help create other projects, but there are no immediate plans to do so. One aim is to share the expertise involved in creating and running Hazel Hill Wood with other woodland centres.
Alan Heeks bought Hazel Hill Wood in 1987: its evolution as a pioneering education centre and conservation woodland has depended heavily on his energy and funding. The move to a charity structure is intended to reduce this dependence, and support the continuity and further growth of this project, especially its educational programmes.
Overall responsibility for the direction and governance of the Trust’s activities sits with the trustees: Alan Heeks (Chair), Jake Farr (Deputy Chair), John Kingston, Marcos Frangos, Ella Sinclair, Frances Wood, Jo Clark. Trustees all have a strong connection with Hazel Hill Wood, and a breadth of skills and experience.
Marcos Frangos joined the Trust in May 2015 as General Manager, working half time. His key roles include:
- Lead expansion of education activities and develop local contacts.
- Manage finances and legal obligations of the Charity.
Manage facilities, conservation and operations at the Wood.