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The River Waveney Trust awarded by South Norfolk Council for maintenance of Diss nature spot

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A volunteer group has been rewarded for its efforts in maintaining a nature reserve during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Diss branch of The River Waveney Trust was hailed as South Norfolk Council’s environmental champions of 2020, after ensuring the 14.5 acre Frenze Beck Nature Reserve, off Sawmills Road in Diss, was well looked-after, particularly during the pandemic.

As part of the virtual South Norfolk Community Awards 2020 earlier this month, the volunteer workforce was commended for “working tirelessly to turn disused and neglected land into a valuable community space that benefits and improves the local environment”.

The group have been hailed as Environmental Champions of 2020, after ensuring Frenze Beck Nature Reserve was well looked-after during the pandemic.
The group have been hailed as Environmental Champions of 2020, after ensuring Frenze Beck Nature Reserve was well looked-after during the pandemic.

In 2003 South Norfolk District Council excavated the lower part of the site, making two reedbeds with integral ponds and drainage ditches, to create a wetland habitat for nature, a site for visitors and act as a flood plain for the surrounding area.

Since then, The Diss branch of The River Waveney Trust – made up of 15 volunteers – has spent every Monday maintaining reedbeds, mowing and raking the meadow areas, and ensuring paths are suitable for walkers, amongst other tasks.

Tessa Greaves, who has been a member of the group since moving to Basham Street in Diss from Thetford two years ago, said the group was overjoyed to be recognised for its efforts.

“Everybody in the group was very pleased about it,” said the 61-year-old retired dental hygienist.

“We do it because we enjoy doing it – but it’s nice to be appreciated.

“A surprising amount of people in Diss don’t know about Frenze Beck, so hopefully it will help more people discover it.”

During the summer, the group –made up primarily of retirees – continued to maintain the site, only missing six weeks during the beginning of lockdown.

“Between March and May, we weren’t working unless there was something vital but, as soon as we were able to, we were back on site,” added Miss Greaves.

“People wanted to come back and do something positive. We had to think about how we were doing things – we had to be working individually so we weren’t close to each other, and we couldn’t all just pile into the containers to get equipment. But it’s like everything – you adapt.

“We wanted there to be somewhere nice and safe – particularly during lockdown – and it’s been nice for people to come and find some peace and quiet over the past six months.”

South Norfolk Council’s Community Awards were held to celebrate the work and achievements of volunteers, community groups and businesses across the district.

This year’s event saw the winners of each award revealed throughout the day on the council’s social media channels by chairman Graham Minshull.

On the day, Cllr Minshull thanked the nominees, adding that the circumstances of the past six months gave them even added significance.

He said: “This has been a difficult year for all of us, and the importance of community spirit has never been more apparent.

“It was a real honour to reveal to each of our winners that they had won their respective awards and take the opportunity to thank them for their incredible work, supporting communities across south Norfolk.”

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