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Children are the new Croydon’s Spa Woods Nature army

As Debbie Paul and Chloe Stein walk dogs daily along Spa Wood in Upper Norwood, they would notice rubbish everywhere. One day as they do their regular dog walks, they got fed up of the trash and decided with firm determination to make the place cleaner for the local people.

That was two years ago.

Friends of Spa Woods was born through these two people. They invite volunteers to pick up and collect trash to preserve historical woods. Spa Woods is a part of The Lawns which is a 15-acre site which also housed a game court and a playground. Croydon’s Council owned this big parcel of land.

The Council together with the London Wildlife Trust work hand in hand with the Friends to monitor and maintain the cleanliness of the place. Spa Wood, having been once part of the Great North Wood, stretched several miles from Croydon to Camberwell. The great Spa Wood’s remnants along that stretch of land now formed smaller woods which is in South London.

Chloe, the Chairperson of the Friends, said they initiated it because of the volume of trash that one can be found there. She said that now that it’s clean, more and more people come and visit the place because they find it safer now, especially since a lot of the neighborhood have no spacious outdoor.

"It was always quite popular with dog walkers but people were scared to walk through it, it wasn't a safe feeling.

"But now it is more open, it feels safe and it is used by more families”, Chloe added.

Debbie, the treasurer said that all the members are volunteers they don’t have enough funds for the continous project clean-up and they have been seeking grants ever since it started.

The Friends for Spa Woods was very blessed this month for having been awarded £2000 from Postcode Local Trust. It was from this fund that the group will start creating the nature trail along the woods. Chloe, who is also an artist, will design and create wood sculptures and fairy doors which will give it a touch of magic.

A memorial for Frankie Howley-Mummery will be part of the trail as donations from her family came in. Frankie was the former deputy head of Priory School which was a school for children with special needs. Her children used to play in the woods pretending it was a fairy kingdom.

"She lived around this area for 30 plus years and myself and my sister spent a lot of time round The Lawns when we were kids so there are a lot of fond memories”, Jack, her son, recalls.

"We heard about the plans for the woods and thought it would be a nice way to remember her. It is one of the few places that is woodland compared to parks, when I was growing up I remember it being full of brambles and nettles now it has become much clearer but is still a natural area of woodland.”

"We want everybody to enjoy the space as we did as kids because it was such a big part of us as a family,'' he added.