Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council scooped the Community of the Year 2023 award at the Wild About Devon Awards.

The accolade was secured on December 1 in recognition of the council's Climate Change Group's stellar contribution towards improving local wildlife habitat.

This dynamic team embarked on a mission to enrich Devon Wildlife, kicking off with planting willow whips along the river bank and sowing native bulbs across the parish.

They tapped into their creative wisdom to design a wildflower meadow, a copse, put up 32 bird boxes, and even plant three Platinum Jubilee trees.

The team then surveyed the whole Parish and managed to secure over 100 free trees and 1400 free hedging whips.

Their success drew attention, earning them additional support from the Woodland Trust, East Devon AONB, and Devon County Council.

Sidmouth Herald: The accolade was secured on December 1 in recognition of the council's Climate Change Group

The fruits of this group's labour are evident in the luscious sports field.

It once featured a wire mesh fence and was sprayed annually with weed killer.

Now, it houses 26 trees, a tree belt, and 150m of hedging, destined to replace the fence.

The new cemetery also enjoys seven new trees and 60m of new hedging, while the old cemetery hosts nine fresh trees, preserved wild areas, spring bulbs, wildflowers, and a hedgehog box.

The previously mundane recreational field now flaunts over 40 new trees, a thriving wildflower meadow, a bug hotel, and a freshly constructed rock wildlife habitat.

The Climate Change Group did not make all this change on its own, having assistance from the community to tip the scale.

The invaluable assistance ranged from Parklife South West, Bicton College students, RSPB volunteers, schoolchildren, and local residents who were eager to improve their locality.

The Group also organised a 'Giveaway' day, during which they distributed hedgehog 'holes', bird boxes, and 250 tree whips freely to the community.

Still, the path was not without hurdles, such as the drowning of the Jubilee copse and damage from May floods, but it was worth the effort in the end.

An increase in bio-diversity in the area is reportedly evident, seeing the bird boxes filled and wildlife inhabiting the new habitats.

Future plans are already brewing, as the parish is planning to plant more trees on East Devon District Council land.