From blank canvas to wildlife haven - 10 Years of Brockholes

From blank canvas to wildlife haven - 10 Years of Brockholes

Emma B Photography

To celebrate Brockholes' 10th Birthday this year, we have been asking people to share their memories of our unique nature reserve with us. Director of Marketing for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Lindsey Poole, has been involved with Brockholes from the very start. Here's just a few of her memories...

I have been lucky enough to work on Brockholes since the very early days. By the time I joined the team, the Trust had already fought hard and delivered a record-breaking fundraising appeal to reclaim the site back for wildlife and that’s where the real journey began. 

I had heard about the Brockholes project, of course, during my time as a marketing volunteer for the Trust and it was impossible not to get swept up in the buzz of excitement from the staff team. I had fallen in love with the reserve before I’d even been there, so when the chance arose to join the Trust as the first ever marketing officer, I had to grab it with both hands. 

Brockholes sign

Pauline Beattie

We knew we wanted Brockholes to be a new kind of reserve, a place where everyone was welcome whether they were enjoying their first encounter with nature or they are a life-long enthusiast. Our mission was to create a bridge between people and wildlife; a place where wildlife is for everyone. There were bold conservation plans emerging and a real drive to test out new techniques alongside more traditional techniques with expertise developed over many decades at the Trust. 

Everything about the development of Brockholes has been driven by shear passion, dedication and innovation from the Trust team, both past and present. A RIBA design competition was soon launched – the challenge was set to overcome the issues around the reserves location on a flood plain, whilst keeping visitors as close to nature as possible? The winning design was of course the Iconic Floating Visitor Village – the first of its kind in the UK! 

Building Brockholes

There were many partners rooting for us and supporting us along the way, with funding and expertise to help us. The day of ‘cutting the first sod’ is one I will never forget. Standing on top of the hill (which is now the pathway to the Visitor Village) looking down at an empty space where it was so clear something very special was about to be born.  As our then Chief Executive, Anne Selby, climbed into the digger for some photographs donning her ‘posh wellies’, the look on her face said everything – thrilled to make it to his point and determined to make Brockholes something really special.  

I was hooked. Brockholes soon became a mission for me and I was as determined as Anne to make the dream a reality; a place where everyone could come and enjoy some time in nature, enjoy the delights of buzzing dragonflies in the summer or the fleeting dash of colour as a Kingfisher swept by. This was our chance to bring nature closer to everyone – and that’s how our launch marketing campaign was born! 

Ariel view of Brockholes

We launched into full swing, with hard hat tours on the Visitor Village as it was built and a very frosty 12-hour December day filming with Julia Bradbury and the Countryfile Team. The conservation team were working round the clock to create the habitats you see today, and we created regular video diaries so that everyone could follow us on the journey. 

Before we knew it, a gloriously sunny Easter Sunday 2011 came and it was time to open our gates to the public for the very first time. It was so wonderful to see so many people excited to join us, the reserve was not only buzzing with wildlife now, it was buzzing with people enjoying time in nature. The reserve back then was still brand new, and in conservation terms even 10 years on it is still relatively new and is growing and developing all the time.  

We have a team Brockholes champions – dedicated, enthusiastic and hardworking staff and volunteers who work every day behind the scenes to keep the magic alive

Our journey hasn’t been an easy one. The costs of running Brockholes have made it a real challenge for the Trust to keep it going over the years, and if we are honest there have been some really close calls in the future of Brockholes. As a charity, we don’t have a huge amount of money to keep flying our flag high and investing in new facilities. We have to be creative, seek additional funding and we have fought hard, and along the way. Over the years, we have grown our army of Brockholes champions – dedicated, enthusiastic and hardworking staff and volunteers who work every day behind the scenes to keep the magic alive, with the support of our members. We couldn't do it without them. 

The wildlife and habitats have gone from strength to strength, and we have so many regular visitors supporting us. I certainly know that wherever I go in life, there will always be a piece of my heart reserved for Brockholes. 

Brockholes

Ben Abbott

If you donated to that first appeal, you’ve volunteered your time or you are a fellow colleague who puts their heart and soul into Brockholes, or you're a regular visitor – Thank you! I hope you feel as proud as I do of the wonderful reserve it has become.  

So whether you’re new to nature, or a wildlife enthusiast, I would urge you to put a visit to Brockholes on your ‘to do’ list. Each time you visit, you are supporting The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and our work here and in the wider region. 

Happy Birthday Brockholes! Here’s to the next ten years and beyond
Celebrating 10 wonderful years

Share your Brockholes Moments with us

Whether you visit every week, or have been once or twice; been part of a wedding here or passed through on the Guild Wheel, whatever your memory of Brockholes is, we want to hear it to help celebrate 10 wonderful years of this unique, beautiful nature reserve.

Share your moments here

David Gaskell