"It was an exciting project to be involved with and we are overwhelmed at the interest and recognition the screen has received."
Neil Hedley, Blyth Star service manager
Blyth Star Enterprises, which supports people across Northumberland living with severe and enduring mental health conditions and/or learning disabilities, has received praise for a bird viewing screen built by service users at its dedicated woodwork department from Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester, on his recent visit to the county.
The Duke of Gloucester visited Ridley Park in Blyth, South East Northumberland, where the bird screen is situated on a recent engagement to unveil the town’s newly restored Cenotaph. The screen, which was commissioned earlier in the year by the Friends of Ridley Park, has enabled budding ornithologists of all ages to enjoy the variety of birdlife that call the park home.
The Duke was shown to the fully accessible screen, which features openings at different heights that look out onto a secure viewing area filled with specialist bird tables and feeders, and was also introduced to Neil Hedley, service manager at The Woodfuel Centre and woodwork department.
“We were delighted to be asked to construct the bird viewing screen for Ridley Park,” Neil said.
“It was an exciting project to be involved with and we are overwhelmed at the interest and recognition the screen has received.
“The Duke was very impressed at what our service users had created and how it all looked. He was also intrigued by all of the interior bird feeders and the amount of feed the birds were consuming.”
The bird screen had already received Royal praise earlier this summer when it was awarded the Best Urban Project accolade at the LOVE Northumberland Awards by Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland.
Gordon Moore, chief executive at Blyth Star Enterprises, said:
“We are thrilled with the feedback we have received in praise of the bird screen.
“When we were approached by the Friends of Ridley Park about the project, we never dreamt that it would be winning awards and used for entertaining royalty!
“We are a very community focused organisation and everything that we do is underpinned by our charitable aim to re-engage our service users with their local communities. This project, as well as being a commercial triumph for the park, has also enabled us to achieve this aim and we hope that the success of this will open up more opportunities like this for our service users at The Woodfuel Centre.”
Specialising in processing and producing sustainably sourced kiln-dried kindling and logs for wood-burning stoves, The Woodfuel Centre is run by a team of trained professionals with support from Blyth Star Enterprises’ service users.
The woodwork department which adjoins the Centre provides opportunities for service users to learn carpentry and joinery skills and then apply what they learn to creative commissions, such as the one completed for the Friends of Ridley Park, as part of the organisation’s commitment to providing innovative, meaningful day services.
For more information about Blyth Star Enterprises and The Woodfuel Centre, visit www.blythstar.org.uk.