Home » wardens » Recent Articles:

Get involved and Join the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse

February 1, 2017 Friends No Comments

If you would like to help to fund the voluntary work of the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse to maintain Chichester’s first Local Nature Reserve then please print off a copy of the following membership form. Download a form by clicking here.

This lovely local amenity is maintained and improved by a small group of volunteers who work for the benefit of the whole community of Chichester.

If you have not visited the Copse, why not come and see what a special area it is.

The Copse offers local residents:

  • A place to walk and enjoy peace and quiet
  • A place to study our rich flora and fauna
  • Significant archaeological remains
  • A resource for families, local schools and the community

The FRIENDS OF BRANDY HOLE COPSE desperately needs your support and the backing of the people of Chichester to survive and to ensure that their work to protect and conserve the Copse as a Local Nature Reserve can continue.


  • Become a member of the Group
  • Make a donation to the work of the Group
  • Offer a small amount of your time to help out as:
    • conservation worker
    • helping with raising public awareness of the Copse
    • helping with membership recruitment
    • acting as an occasional warden
    • anything else you feel able to do

For more information, please  find our contact details by clicking on contact us


Voluntary Warden Scheme

February 3, 2009 Friends No Comments

The Conservation Group encourages members and other volunteers to act as volunteer wardens. The aim of this scheme is to have a number of people who visit the copse from time to time to keep an eye on things and to report back any issues of interest or concern to the group. They are thee eyes and ears of the Group. These guidelines are to help voluntary wardens to know how the scheme works and what action to take to report issues to the conservation group.

  • Voluntary Wardens agree to visit the copse on a regular basis. The frequency of the visits is a matter for the individual to determine and to notify the Group. Once a week would be very helpful, but if individual wardens want to agree a more or less frequent arrangement, that is still very helpful. Occasional visits are still very important.
  • Wardens should report back to the Secretary or Chairman the following types of issues:
    • damage to trees, fences etc. in the Copse
    • acts of vandalism
    • fires (urgently)
    • unacceptable conduct by members of the public (and dogs)
    • interesting observations of wildlife
    • ideas on maintenance required to the Copse
    • incidents of cycling in the Copse (which is not permitted)
    • issues raised by members of the public visiting the Copse
    • any other information that may be helpful to the Group
  • Leaflets about the Copse are normally available from the leaflet boxes within the Copse. However, Wardens may wish to carry a supply of these to give out to interested visitor. These are available from the Secretary.
  • Carrying a mobile phone in case of emergencies is useful, if you have one.
  • Wardens should deal with the public in a courteous and friendly manner. You must avoid getting into confrontational situations with visitors. It is appropriate to ask politely what someone is doing if, for example, their activities seem suspicious. Most people will react reasonably to this. However, if confrontational situations develop, you must withdraw and report the issue to the group or, in extreme cases, the police.
  • People do, unfortunately, light fires in the Copse. Do not attempt to put these out on your own. If they are minor they will probably extinguish themselves in time. However, if in doubt contact the Group or in more serious cases, phone the fire brigade.
  • We suggest you read the booklet on the history and natural history of the Copse (available from the Secretary) to ensure you can answer routine questions from the public. However, if you can’t answer specific questions, do not worry. Refer them back to us and we will make sure that the person asking the question is provided with an answer. You can’t be an expert on everything (and many of us are not experts on anything!).
  • Enjoy your time as a warden in the Copse. Much of this work will be enjoyable, relaxing and pleasant. It is important that people realise that we do have a regular presence in the Copse and that the area is being conserved and protected.

For more information, please contact us

Chairman’s Report to AGM, 2005/2006


When I took up the role of Chairman in April last year, I believed I was facing a substantial challenge. I was right!!! Although the Conservation group was in many ways well-established and had been active and successful for some 18 years, there was a concern about the limited number of active members and the fact that some of those members who had contributed so much to establish the Copse as we know it today were reaching a stage of their lives where they were no longer able to make the same level of contribution. There had been discussions at two successive AGM’s about the possibility of winding down the group altogether due to a lack of volunteers..

My personal challenge as a new Chairman with, I must admit, very little experience within the Group, was to try to raise public awareness about the activities of the group, increase membership, especially active membership, and raise awareness in the local community of the value of Brandy Hole Copse, its environment and its wildlife. I hoped we could give the group a momentum that it was lacking to ensure it had a real future. That challenge would take some considerable time.

I wanted to strengthen the group through the involvement, not just of people wanting to do practical conservation work, which is so important in itself, but also people who could do administration, public relations, membership and related activities.

A year later I feel that the Group is substantially stronger, has a higher public profile, a stronger committee, an increase in membership and a positive future. This report summarises what has been a very successful year for us all.


We have built some important links with the Chichester Observer. The aim is to have regular publicity of our activities so the local community are aware of what we are doing on their behalf. In May we had an item published about our urgent need for more volunteers and support. This produced a limited response but was still helpful publicity. In September we had a further item published about our success in obtaining a Woodland Trust grant (see below), and in April we had further publicity about the success of our first educational event (pond dipping).

We are doing further work on widening our scope for publicity through specific community groups, through giving illustrated talks about the Copse and the Group, guided walks in the Copse, and through involvement in future events including the Chichester Festivities in July, and Chichester in Bloom.

Woodland Trust Grant

This was perhaps the highlight of our year in that we succeeded in getting a grant of £2000 from the Woodland Trust. This followed a lengthy application process. We received the grant in September and then had the happy problem of having to spend the money by the end of December 2005. The Committee was fully challenged by this but rose to the occasion. The bulk of the money was spent on educational links, buying in consultancy support from the Sussex Wildlife Trust, raising public awareness and purchasing some new tools and equipment. (See accounts for further details).

A publicity leaflet was designed, printed and distributed with the local free paper in the Chichester and surrounding area. Many of you will have seen this leaflet and responded to it. The theme of the leaflet was to make people aware that the group was struggling for survival and was doing something very important in maintaining a wonderful local amenity for the people of Chichester. The response to the leaflet was excellent, producing a substantial boost in our membership and generating donations in excess of £600, which we will be using on a key project for the Copse in due course. The leaflet also brought us tremendous publicity value.

Educational Developments were the other key focus for the grant money. We have purchased help from the Sussex Wildlife Trust and we will use this material along with the valuable contributions of our own committee members and others (my thanks to Kate Sabin and Judi Darley) to develop discovery trails, tree trails, and a range of events focused on families and children. The first of these was a highly successful pond-dipping event on 1st April. We may eventually develop an education pack to use with local schools, but this will be a further significant challenge. Involving children in appreciating the Copse is a major focus for the Group. It is our future.

The web-site

Another huge step forward for the Group has been the establishment of www.brandyholecopse.org.uk. If you have not looked at it yet, please do. A web-site is fundamental to maintaining public contact and increasing awareness locally and nationally of what we are doing. Following discussion with the District Council, who could only offer us assistance on the longer-term, we decided to move ahead with setting up our own site. My thanks to Tom Broughton for designing, creating and developing the site. We will continue to develop this site, but I am delighted with the progress made on this so far.

LNR Management Board

Many Members may be unaware of the importance (or even existence!) of the Management Board for the Copse. The Board has overall responsibility for the Copse, its management and conservation as a local amenity. It includes representatives of the District Council, City Council, County Council, Natural History Society and other interested groups. It is an important and influential group because it includes both District and City Councillors. The Conservation group continues to have two seats on the Board, occupied by Jim Ayling and myself. Although the Board can sometimes be a frustrating experience, it is a valuable part of the management of the Copse and our views are certainly taken seriously by the Board. One of its major developments this year has been the production of a new project plan defining the activities that should be taking place in the Copse in 2006 to deliver the overall Management Plan (2002-2007). The Board will need to work on a new management plan from 2007.

Other important links

We have continued to develop our links with other interested bodies locally, many of which make a major contribution to our work. The Chichester Natural History Society continues to carry out significant survey work in the Copse and produce a detailed report of the species identified (no, it’s not all in Latin!). I have also recently joined the committee of CNHS, which will further strengthen the valuable links between the two organisations. I am grateful to Chairman Mike Perry and his committee for their continued support.

We have also maintained and developed links with local residents’ associations and we are beginning to build links with local youth organisations including guides and scouts.

Copse Maintenance

In a year of so many other developments, it would be easy to overlook the continuing basic role of the Group, which is to maintain and conserve the Copse. This work has continued regularly throughout the year, especially the ‘Wednesday afternoon’ group, led so ably by Jim Ayling, which has increased its numbers as a result of the awareness raising activities described above. They have continued with coppicing work, maintenance of paths, steps, gates, ponds etc. and removal of litter. This is all highly important and essential work that carries on and maintains the Copse in an excellent state. Jim is also our ‘storekeeper’ and guardian of all the tools and equipment in his garden shed, as well as our local pond and tree warden.. My thanks to Jim and to all who contribute to this, including the help we receive from ’The Crumblies’ on a regular basis.

Warden Scheme

It is important that we all keep an eye on the Copse, which remains vulnerable to vandalism and inappropriate use. We have started to establish a system of Voluntary Wardens who are accredited by the Group and who visit the Copse from time to time and keep their eyes open, reporting back to the committee where there are any problems. This also makes members of the public aware that someone is looking after the area. We have a few such wardens at present, and we are keen to hear from other members of the Group who might like to take up this occasional role which can be combined with their normal visits to the Copse. Details are on the website or available from me.

The future

I believe that the future of the Group is more positive now than it has been for some time. However, there is still much to do and we need the support and help of everyone to continue with our successes of this year. We face a minor crisis in needing a new Secretary of the Committee and new committee members to help us move forward. Please let me know if you are interested. We are fortunate in having some excellent supporters and committee members at present but we cannot expect people to give vast amounts of their own time to BHCCG. The more active supporters we have, the more we can spread the activities around.

We also face a major challenge in relation to possible housing development on White House Farm on the South side of the Copse. This would have a devastating impact on the wildlife of the Copse, which is substantially dependent on the interaction between the woods and the meadows. If this proposal becomes a reality we will need to be strong and active as a group in opposing it.


This is always the most dangerous part of any report. Many people have made contributions to the Group this year, and I will apologise now in case I have forgotten anyone. I have mentioned a number of key individuals in the report already. In addition I would like to that Melvyn Holford for his sterling work as our Treasurer. Also:

  • John Herniman, who has withdrawn from the committee for understandable personal reasons, after many years of being a valued member of the Group.
  • Liz Sagues, for her work on the excellent Newsletter
  • All the committee members, whose efforts make the Group what it is.
  • And finally, but certainly not least, Jim Ayling who has decided to step down as Secretary of the Group after many years of tremendous contribution to BHCCG. It is difficult to summarise Jim’s huge contribution over the years. Fortunately he has agreed to remain on the Committee so we will retain the benefit of his knowledge, experience and enthusiasm.

Oh, yes, and all of you who support the Group, enjoy and value the Copse. Thank you.

Graham Ault

Spending for the future

April 2, 2006 2006 Spring No Comments

From the chairman, Graham Ault

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, we were delighted to discover in September that we had been successful in obtaining a grant of £2,000 from the Woodland Trust. Since then your committee has been working hard to spend the money. That might not seem like a big problem, but in practice it had to be spent within a limited time scale and in ways that met the terms of the grant scheme.

I can now report with some satisfaction that we have spent the money on important aspects of the group’s work. We have purchased some new tools for practical conservation work in the Copse. We have been working with the Sussex Wildlife Trust to develop educational opportunities to encourage youngsters and families to come and appreciate the Copse. We have printed and distributed an important leaflet to 10,000 homes in Chichester and surrounding area which has been very successful in raising awareness of the group, has generated a significant number of new members and has resulted in donations towards our work well in excess of £600.

I would like to take this opportunity of welcoming new members to the group and I hope you will take an active interest in what we are doing. If you have any questions or points you wish to make, please contact me and do come to the AGM on May 4, full details of which are included with this newsletter.

I am delighted with the excellent work done in developing the website (www.brandyholecopse.org.uk). If you haven’t had a look at the site, please do. It is looking quite thorough and professional now and we will continue to expand it. There is a more about the website on the back page of this newsletter. Our thanks go to Tom Broughton in particular for this development.

We have also established a voluntary warden scheme. Again, details are posted on the website. The idea of this scheme is for as many people as possible to act as voluntary wardens when they visit the Copse. If you volunteer, we will give you a badge, and we ask you to report back to us any observations or issues, etc. If we can build up enough volunteers, even if some visit the Copse only occasionally, it will show that we are keeping a regular eye on things and the Copse is in good hands. If you would like to be an occasional voluntary warden, please let me know.

Our committee has grown by the inclusion of Judi Darley, who is very experienced in educational work and is acting as our Education Officer, and Tom Snow, who is working on ideas to raise public awareness and promote membership. We have increased our conservation volunteer group. We have strengthened our already substantial links with Chichester Natural History Society as I am now a member of their committee and this will ensure that the two groups work positively together in the future.

I really feel that with spring in the air and with so many new and exciting developments in the group we are really beginning to build a sound foundation for the future. However, we still rely on a smallish number of hard-working supporters, so if you would like to help in any way at all with our work, please get in touch. Just as important is that you go and visit the Copse and enjoy the spring in this lovely nature reserve.

Search This Site: