Group Meeting – 24th June 2016

Our Chairman, David Bettiss, opened the meeting with details of our Group winning ‘The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’, the MBE for volunteer groups. David then went on to welcome Dr Dawn Scott, Assistant Head at Brighton University, and on her second visit to us, this time to talk, in her usual enthusiastic and informative way, about her work on The Urban Fox Project. Dr Scott began by informing us that by the year 2020 over 80% of people will live in an urban area and with population growth dictating greater land use change, wildlife faced new risks but also new opportunities. Few species can adapt but foxes, badgers and hedgehogs can compete and share habitat. In recent years press reports regarding attacks on humans in towns and cities by foxes have suggested that urban foxes have increased in number. It is possible that we are seeing more of them as urban foxes are becoming more accustomed to humans and getting braver, but there is no data to suggest an increase in population. The only major change that has occurred in urban fox populations over the past 30 years has been down to an outbreak of sarcoptic mange, a common disease of mammals, which severely reduced fox numbers in some areas. In 2012 Channel 4 launched ‘Foxes Live: Wild in the City’, an interactive natural history event which encouraged viewers to submit photographs via their smartphones and to contribute to natural history research by taking part in the largest ever urban fox survey.

After a break for refreshments Tricia Hall advised us that Salsify had appeared in her garden, probably from seeds spread by the wind. The boat of flowers situated at the end of Sea Lane had been demolished by a road traffic accident but there is a possible replacement offered by Lancing Parish Council. Tricia showed us photographs of a Painted Lady Butterfly sitting on the Thrift and Birds’-foot-trefoil and a bumble bee with full pollen sacs on a Sea Daisy along the Patterson’s Walk shingle beds. Also there is good shingle flora there including Mallow and Yellow Horn Poppies, which have the largest seed pods in Britain. Deadly Nightshade is growing along the west side of the Rife as well as the Common Spotted Orchid, Early Marsh Orchids but no Bee Orchids this year, also absent were dragon flies in the area.

To conclude the meeting Ed Miller advised us that the public toilets on Ferring Village Green and in the Bluebird Café car park may well be closed by Arun District Council. David Bettiss has written a letter of objection to Councillor Roger Elkins regarding this situation.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2016

I am delighted to inform you that it has just been officially announced that Ferring Conservation Group has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is fantastic news for the Group as it is the highest award a voluntary group such as ourselves can receive in the UK and it is the equivalent of an MBE.

I want to thank all of our members who have made this possible, and particularly those who have carried out the wide variety of voluntary tasks for which our Group is so well known, both within the village and further afield. I want to especially thank all of the Group’s committee members who have gone the extra mile to make the Group what is is today – without them, we would not have been successful in the award process.

We will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex later in the summer, and this will include a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen. We also plan to have a small celebration at our next members meeting on Friday 24 June, starting at 7.30pm, which is at the St Andrews Church Centre on this occasion. Our guest speaker at that meeting will be Dr Dawn Scott from the University of Brighton, who is well known from her appearances on the BBC Springwatch programmes.

This really is a great day for Ferring Conservation Group, and I am very proud of what we have achieved.

David Bettiss


Ferring Conservation Group