Chair’s Report – Spring/Summer 2024

It has been another whirlwind spring season as far as the Findhorn Hinterland Trust and the various activities on the land go.  

The ‘When the Bough Breaks’ film, which starred our trustee Alan Watson Featherstone and the rewilding work he was previously involved in with Trees for Life, took place on the 16th March in the Universal Hall and was well attended and received  It led nicely into a public presentation on our very own rewilding project, the Dune Restoration presentations by Alan, Heather, Sean and I the very next day with a follow up walk and talk on the dunes for some. 


This was part of raising awareness locally about this major and important project and allowed us to promote the BigGive Green Match Funding campaign which took place from the 18th to 25th April.  This was very successful and a huge thanks goes to the BigGive organisation for selecting our project and everyone who contributed; we raised over our £10,000 goal plus an additional £1000 being donated through John Clausen and the Hygeia Foundation in the USA.  This will be used to pay for work done on the ground during this next winter.  We were also fortunate to secure further funding  of £3250 through TSI Moray and the CAN (Climate Action Network) that helped pay for project set up work; the film, the public presentations, an unexploded ordnance report essential as part of our risk assessment measures, project development by Sean, marketing by Birgit and help with monitoring the project through another ecologist James Bunyan.  James visited us in April and we are excited about him looking at some cutting edge monitoring of our project using drones.  

Another exciting and connected development has been the securing of a £3,500 grant through the Newbold Legacy Trust which will help fund a three year partnership with Forres Academy to build awareness and involve pupils in our biodiversity and nature awareness project work; the school already spends a day here with around 50-60 pupils carrying out their Biology fieldwork work in the summer term and we expect them again on the 18th June.  This is a major step forward in fulfilling our educational purpose as a charity and watch this space to find out how this partnership develops.

Birgit Carow, who does the marketing for our charity, put together the splendid FHT Educational Programme for this year and her colourful and appealing posters can be seen dotted around and some online marketing has taken place.  Despite not yet having a working community website to advertise through, all three day workshops so far, Sharing Nature, Sacred Ways and the one on Biodiversity, have gone ahead.  It is great to see local people taking advantage of the educational expertise and knowledge offered by our exceptional and talented local experts. We are offering two week long retreats/workshops in the next months which are still to fill so please do spread the word and encourage those you know who might wish to come and benefit from these.  


Other areas of the trust’s work are ticking along nicely. After very few green burials last year there have been a number already this year including the moving funeral and memorial service for long term and much loved community member Duerten Lau.  There were several hundred people present at the Wilkies Wood green burial site to send our dear friend off.  Duerten did much to help develop the community at the Park Ecovillage Findhorn including for a period being the Chair of the Findhorn Hinterland Group the precursor of the FHT charity.  We now have 58 bodies buried at the site and 62 reserved lairs with 3 burials and 2 more reserved since April of this year.  The site is still used for community events which included this year’s May Day Celebration organised by Draeyk and complete with May pole dancing and a small play. This event was part of a one day visit by a group of keen and enthusiastic teens from an alternative school in New Jersey that were visiting the land and theEcovillage as part of their studies through an organisation called Travel for Teens.  It was a privilege to host these change makers of the future who showed great interest in our work.

It has been good to see the sun and feel some warmth in May as April was unusually cold and rainy.  For this reason our bees had to be fed with fondant all through the month of April to keep them alive and we are glad to say that nine out of our ten hives are now thriving with two extra artificial swarms already having been set up and a large swarm having been housed.  Unfortunately both the other bee team stalwarts, John Willoner and Martin Harker, have had health challenges which has left me holding the fort.  Thanks to Amanda and Goran for some help but please do contact me if you are interested in offering help or even being part of our core team in the future.  No bee experience – come along to our two day bee workshop on the 22nd and 23rd of June!  You will love it and learn a lot.


Another creative endeavour that will lead to a Chunky Bench Making Workshop in September has been the creation of two lovely rustic benches sponsored by FHT member Helen Kalis which are now installed on the high dune ridge above the North Whins site at the Park.  Woodworker Steven Porter has been volunteering has time and skill to make this all happen.  Do take the time to wander up and enjoy the benches and the view and have a look at Steven’s article elsewhere in this newsletter. 

Great to finally see the new sanctuary project moving again with the foundations now in and we are looking forward to getting the logs down to the Conservation Hub for their final preparation and to have the joints constructed under tarps by talented woodworker Henry Fosbrooke.  Help with the log scraping will be needed and grading and helping with the transport of the sawn timber we milled from wind blown wood will be much appreciated. 

Change is a constant in the world, our community and the Findhorn Hinterland Trust.  The charity has been planning how it can be more sustainable and resilient as an organisation so that its good work can be carried on for a hundred years and beyond. How will this be done especially as I step down as Chair January 1st 2026 and others in their roles just now will need to be replaced over time?  To help us consciously take the next steps we secured some consultation time with Just Enterprise, a government organisation that helps the charity and community enterprise sector. This involved them finding out about our charity, exploring the thoughts of the core team through a questionnaire and gathering us together for a meeting at Cullerne House to carry out a SWOT analysis and look together at our next steps.  (See their detailed report elsewhere).  The main change will be from an organisational structure where I as an individual maintain links to one where even more of a team structure is put in place where the organisation is effectively held by the group.  For this reason we are very open to new trustees and team members and as part of this change welcome Talitha Ross as our new FHT Secretary who will be replacing Judith Bone after many years of service. Vivienne Wylde has also stepped down as our Membership Secretary and although Arun has offered to hold this position for now, we are on the lookout for a younger person to grow into the position. Might that be you?         

Jonathan Caddy
FHT Chair
May 2024

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Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB