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National Trust countryside volunteers: Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force

PUBLISHED: 16:35 24 November 2011 | UPDATED: 15:57 20 February 2013

The Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force

The Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force

With spring finally here, this month we hear from National Trust countryside volunteer Derek Horn, leader of the Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force, to find out what's involved

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2009

With spring finally here, this month we hear from National Trust countryside volunteer Derek Horn, leader of the Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force, to find out what's involved


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The Limpsfield Voluntary Task Force is made up of about 35 retired gentlemen who get together every Thursday morning, weather permitting, to help the National Trust. The group was started in 1985 and I joined two years later.

One of my first tasks was helping to clear the mess from the great storm in 1987 - it was hard work and even today we are still finding dead wood from the storm among the undergrowth.

Actually, at the start of the year, we cleared a large area of undergrowth beneath some lovely old oak trees at Limpsfield Chart. The idea is that the sunlight will now be able to get to the ground and help the wonderful spring flowers to grow. The bluebells, at this time of year, are particularly beautiful.

Last year, we worked with the National Trust and Surrey Wildlife Trust to put up 50 dormouse boxes on Juniper Hill so that the dormice could breed in them, and I've been told that they have been a success - there were babies last autumn and hopefully there will be more this summer. We have also put up about 20 bat boxes around the air raid shelter site.

As good as new
However, the air raid shelters at Limpsfield Common are what I am most proud of. We helped to restore them for the local primary school to visit. We started the work about four years ago - they were completely overgrown so it took a long time. I made all the benches and the thunder box inside. The schoolchildren asked me who would have emptied the thunder box (toilet) and when I said the teachers they were all in fits of laughter! Some of the local ladies who used the shelters in the Second World War have visited and said that they are just like they used to be. We also opened up the view behind the shelters, so that you can now sit and look over Limpsfield village and right across the North Downs.

Out in the open air
Our other work includes clearing footpaths and bridleways, and I also restored the commemorative bench on the common after it had been vandalised. I suppose I just enjoy being active and being in the open air and I really enjoy the company - we all have a joke and a chat. Do you know men love to talk? I sometimes wonder whether we are a discussion group or a working party! Plus, we all enjoy a few hours away from our wives!

In all, I worked out that we volunteered about 2,890 hours of our time to help the Trust during 2008 and we are all very proud of what we have achieved.


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