Wild Wonder projects aim to provide opportunities for children & adults from all walks of life to engage with nature – using photography, observation and exploration in local wild spaces. 2014 has been a fantastic year working with schools (thousands of children), families, community projects and training programmes for young people. Continually inspired and motivated by the people I meet, Wild Wonder recently worked with a group from Tomorrows People on a John Muir award scheme.

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Tomorrows People is an employment charity working with excluded & disadvantaged young people to help them get and keep a job. The session’s task was to explore the woodlands & orchards at Avon Wildlife Trust’s Folly Farm and take photographs for greetings cards, which the group will sell at a Christmas market in Bristol. We had an amazing session (a day of learning for all) producing so many beautiful and creative images – I have no doubt that the market sales will be successful.

Also working with Avon Wildlife Trust – I’ve been leading a year of community wildlife photography sessions at Portbury Wharf reserve – introducing residents of a new housing development with their beautiful natural neighbour. Season by season local people of all generations have joined the sessions to explore, photograph and contribute to a book about Portbury Wharf. A wonderfully inclusive wildlife project and one I’m very proud to have been a part of!

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Discovering stunning starling & snowdrop displays with children alongside their playgrounds was an awesome start to 2014 year of school Wild Wonder Days – we were even pooed on by the million strong starling murmuration flying over our heads. Through spring, school groups have enjoyed stunning close-up views of water voles kingfishers and bluebell woodlands. Watching nesting kingfishers, rare grebes and fighting water voles just metres away has been so special for pupils, teachers and myself. Wonderful recognition of the children’s photography came when Michael Drayton School won the British Wildlife Photography Awards schools category with their bluebell images taken on our Wild Wonder day. An exciting award ceremony in London with Chris Packham.

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Enjoying a summer of school safaris – children found floral wonder, butterfly-eating crab spiders and one creature, whose ID even testing the skills of UK’s wildlife experts. The only solution was to watch the larvae and see what developed. With the nation waiting… a week later, some scarce & exquisite Muslin Footman Moths emerged! Citizen science!

Autumn saw the start of  twin year-long Wild Wonder projects with 12 schools in Hertfordshire & another 12 in the Bristol area. Both will culminate in the summer with public exhibitions of the work by pupils an eco-conference. Showcasing the local natural spectacles in or near school grounds – here’s just a taster of our autumnal trees.

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Inclusivity is at the heart of Wild Wonder and we have enjoyed some wonderful family  wildlife & photography days – from an inspirational Dad & Kids day in Wiltshire and water-vole watching events for families in Gloucestershire,  to summer wildlife safari’s in South London at the Greenwich Ecology Park. Discovering dozens of rare wasp spiders with London families is an experience I will remember for a long time. The excitement & enthusiasm from wild exploration & observation is so contagious and I’m delighted to have confirmed many more community events next year.

2015 looks set to be the busiest year ever for Wild Wonder. As well as the two major multi-school events that will reach over 5000 children, their families and communities, I also have many other exciting educational projects across the UK. In February I’m working with teachers in  5 London schools for children with special needs including one for blind & partially-sighted pupils. And in Dorset with the Purbeck Literary Festival schools competition.

It had been a wonderful year and I’m looking forward to 2015 – thanks to everyone who has supported Wild Wonder, I really do appreciate your help. There are far too many people to mention – but I would like to express a special thank you to Debra Massey, Julie Doherty, Julie Carthy & UnLtd.

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