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Chris attended the official opening of the Rye Meadows Wetlands in Ashtead:

The Ashtead Rye Meadows Wetlands are 14 acres of meadow land spanning the Rye Brook from Ashtead Woods Road almost to the M25. Since work commenced on the land in 2011, volunteers have achieved a huge amount. In addition, working with professional contractors we have cleared stretches of the Rye Brook, widened the river and realigned the banks. One major piece of work was to create a wetland area with a new pond and several scrapes. At the same time we placed all the Rye Meadows under the umbrella of Fields in Trust which means that the land is protected in perpetuity.

Alongside this action, we have designated one field a Centenary Field to commemorate those 62 residents of Ashtead who fell in the Great War. The opening ceremony to commemorate this field took place at 2pm on Wednesday 24th May 2017. Those present were all the generous sponsors of Rye Meadows and these include A Plant, Thames Water, The Community Foundation For Surrey, Mole Valley District Council, The Barnby Trust, The Thomas Flack Fund, Surrey County Council, Cllr. Chris Townsend, The Lower Mole Partnership, Ashtead Rotary and Surrey Wildlife Trust. Of course nothing could have been done at all without the support of George & Daphne Burnett, the land owners who had the original vision for the Meadows.

The ceremony included contributions from local schools in Ashtead  recorded profiles of the fallen soldiers, and this was played during the day. Also present were Colonel (Retired) Patrick Crowley, MA, CIPR, Imogen Middleton from the Surrey History Centre, representatives from the Surrey Infantry Museum and Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey, Hugh Riley JP DL . A film demonstrating the conditions in which the troops operated during the conflict prepared by the Surrey History Centre was shown in one of the tents.

Although we had received approximately 75 responses, on the day over 200 people came to the opening ceremony and visited the Centenary Field afterwards. Rye Meadows Volunteers were on hand to answer any questions. We are most grateful to Pete Williams Entertainment Services for his assistance with the sound system, and to Four Gables Group for the supply of tea, coffee, water and delicious chocolate brownies.

The Centenary Field is now open to the public via a pedestrian gate and is accessible via the public footpath from Fairholme Crescent (off Bushey Shaw & Links Road) and there is parking in local roads, though please do park considerately so as not to annoy our neighbours.

All the fields require constant maintenance and this is carried out by volunteers on the first and third Tuesday of each month. If you wish to participate please contact us on rmadmin@ryemeadows.org.uk. We also require an income to replace tools and buy diesel etc for the tractors. We have been accused of “Play Farming” and not having the need for equipment on site. Those residents visiting the Centenary Field will have seen how wrong this is. To make free donations to Rye Meadows please visit the Donations page.

Please note the wooden walkway is NOT a challenge for bikes and skateboards and anyone found abusing it will be reported. If residents do observe anyone abusing the walkway please let us know 01372 276158.