Paving the way to nature with new partnerships

Our Laudato Si’ Centre is set to embark on an exciting new chapter following extensive work to its beautiful woodland area.

Over the past few months, work has been carried out to transform the disused woodland of Wardley Hall into an imaginative forest school and community facility to help teach people about the environment and how to care for it.

The work comes on the back of a £30,000 grant from the Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund, as well as an additional £30,000 from North West road maintenance company, Thermal Road Repairs (TRR)

Throughout the project, the team worked hard to remove disease and damaged trees and invasive species, to plant native species and shrubs, and to build a variety of teaching, activity, and contemplation areas.

The project will also see the creation of a briefing zone at the entrance to the woods with log seating and a canopy as well as a campfire area and other activity stations within the woodland.

A Forest School and other associated sessions will run in the rehabilitated woodland five days a week, teaching activities such as shelter building, campfire cooking, wood carving and biodiversity studies. The 3,250 sq m wood will also host activities such as willow weaving, storytelling, and mindfulness.

One significant part of the project involved the construction of a 50m-long accessible path leading around forest, providing access to the woodland for all.

The work – undertaken and funded by TRR – took three weeks to complete, with three people working full time under the watchful eye of TRR supervisor John Walsh, who is also a deacon for the Diocese of Salford.

John was aware of the project and initially visited the Centre while looking for volunteering opportunities for members of his team. As a Permanent Deacon of the Catholic church, and with 44 years of road construction and maintenance under his belt, this project saw two important parts of his life come together.

He said: “As a Catholic, spreading the Good News, the Gospel, is a priority – putting faith into action.

“I was glad to do this work at the Laudato Si’ Centre because the Centre is important for local communities. It brings together so many different groups of people, irrespective of their backgrounds, cultures, and faiths.”

The first task was to select a route for the winding path so that damage to tree roots was minimised. This was then graded, laid with recycled crushed stone sub-base and then topped with hogging – a natural mixture of clays, sands and gravels. TRR used a recycled plastic edging rather than carbon-intensive concrete.

“I was very happy for Thermal Road Repairs to contribute to the centre and to their woodland project,” says TRR managing director Aidan Conway. “For us, looking after the environment, working with disadvantaged groups and giving back to our local community are at the heart of what we do, so it felt like this project fitted perfectly.”

Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment at the Diocese of Salford – which runs the Laudato Si’ Centre –  said: “We are absolutely delighted with the support from Thermal Road Repairs. The pathway, which has been designed to be accessible by wheelchair users, has opened the woodland so we can now get started with the programmes and activities for all. The work was completed with care for our common home at the heart, aligning with the mission of the Centre.”

If you would like to find out more about the woodland or how to book a visit to the Centre for your school, parish, or community group, please email