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Steve’s Nature Diary

I am writing this at my desk on a cold but bright frosty December morning, after an interview about the new recycling campaign for a popular make of crisps and the problem with plastic on beaches. It made me think about whether recycling more should be on my New Year’s resolution list. Of course recycling more should be on everyone’s list, but I think more importantly we should all consider the other 2 R’s – Reduce and Reuse before we even think about Recycling. Of course rather than being in the office I would rather be out and about - even in winter there is lots to see. At this time of year, when the trees are bare it’s a good time to have a closer look at what is growing on them; you may see flashes of a yellow lichen. This lichen is related to the yellow lichen you often see on tiled roofs and belongs to a genus called Xanthoria. In common with all lichens they are a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an alga: the alga makes food from sunlight for the fungus, which provides the alga with a stable substrate. Xanthoria lichens are one of the crustose lichen, so called because they form bright yellow crusts on flat surfaces or encase the twigs of well lit trees and shrubs including Hawthorn and Elder.

If you go for a walk in the woods at this time of the year you often don’t see many birds then all of a sudden you come across a mixed flock. These mixed flocks seem to move through areas very quickly with various species represented including Blue and Great Tit and Chaffinch. It is well worth having a closer look and you may be rewarded with others species such a Long Tailed Tit, Redpoll or even Brambling. Cold weather can be bad for birds but good for bird watchers especially if you feed them in your garden. Not only do more birds visit gardens, but different species are forced to visit as well. So keep your eyes open for winter visitors such as Fieldfare and Redwing and if you have a bush laden with berries you may even fortunate enough to get a visiting waxwing.

Different birds prefer different types of food and some of our own food can be good for birds – for example, fruit cake or mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, or apples and pears past their best. Try sprinkling grated mild cheese under trees and bushes for more timid birds like wren and dunnock. Birds need to drink regularly, whether the weather is hot or cold. They'll even bathe in the depths of winter. In freezing conditions, bird baths and garden ponds become even more important since many natural sources of water are frozen over. It can be difficult to stop a bird bath from freezing, but you could try putting a light ball floating in the water which will be moved by even a gentle breeze, and will keep a small amount of water ice-free or pour on hot water to melt the ice or line the bath with a polythene sheet that you can lift out along with the ice. Happy New Year!

Sedgefield Tree festival ‘a stunning success’
Above: Paula Warwick receives the trophy on behalf of Sedgefield Harriers from Melanie Fordham & Pam Royle

Tyne Tees television personality Pam Royle described this year’s Christmas Tree Festival in Sedgefield’s ancient St Edmund’s Church as ‘a stunning success’.

She praised those who had produced the 47 ‘absolutely splendid’ displays and commented: “I thought the first festival two years ago was really wonderful but this year you have really excelled yourselves with some truly imaginative interpretations of A Carol for Christmas”.

Pam, a popular visitor to Sedgefield, officially opened the festival and headed the judging panel which included her husband, Mike, and church members Melanie and John Fordham. There was special praise from both Pam and Michael for those who sponsored the trees and also for organisers John Burrows, Anne Eyley, Audrey Flanagan, Michael King, Julie and David Latheron, Brenda Moore, Julia Rowsby and Rachel Stephenson who welcomed Pam to the festival. Lay Reader Michael King later described the free, six-day event as ‘a great example of the community spirit evident in Sedgefield’.

In the voluntary organisations section, 1st place went to Sedgefield Harriers, with a much-admired display of the Twelve Days of Christmas, featuring characters and birds created from wooden clothes-pegs. Joint 2nd were ‘Escape’ and Sedgefield Women’s Institute, with St Edmund’s Choir, Sedgefield Squash Club and Sedgefield Flower Club in equal third.

In the business community section, ‘Peridot’ speciality gift and interiors shop took first prize with an exquisite, all-white and silver display depicting ‘In the bleak mid- Winter’. Joint second were ‘From Loft to Loved’ and Sainsbury’s Sedgefield store and Clifton Lodge Vets and ‘Betty’s Boudoir’ shared 3rd place. Judges added an extra award for Number Four Teashop’s dramatic interpretation of ‘We Three Kings’. The festival raised over £3,500 which will be shared equally between the Great North Air Ambulance and the Church Roof Appeal (to replace lead stolen from the church in 2017.)

“Affordable housing” helps local lifeguard buy first home

A local lifeguard trainer has moved into her very first home, with Durham County Council’s Discount Market Sale scheme enabling her to purchase a new-build property in Sedgefield.

Having lived in Sedgefield all her life, Ashley Boardman, 25, wanted to stay in the area, but move into her own home. St Edmund’s Manor, just five minutes from her parents’ house, proved to be the ideal location when she found that there were twobedroom properties on offer at the Story Homes’ development.

Having moved in, Ashley is delighted. “I have found a property with a high specification, on a beautiful development, very close to work and yet still affordable.” And like any other young person taking this big step, there’s an air of excitement about her comments! “I love the attractive exteriors and the fact that the front doors are all different colours. I’m looking forward to starting to decorate; I’ll be turning the second bedroom into a dressing room. I’ve planned a blush pink and grey colour scheme. It’s exciting to have a blank canvas to transform into my dream home.”

Lyndsey Walton, sales manager for St Edmund’s Manor, commented: “We are committed to helping young people to get onto the property ladder and our smaller properties are ideal for first-time buyers, particularly as the Help to Buy scheme or local Councils’ affordable housing scheme can be used.” Photo: Ashley outside her new home

Durham County Council’s scheme

You can get an affordable home in one of two ways - buying a home or renting. The website explains everything you need to get started, but here are a few key points:
Buying a home
This is usually through our Discounted Market Sale scheme, but there are other options such as Shared Ownership or Help to Buy. Information on both schemes is on the Help to Buy website.
Discount Market Sale
Developers sell homes on their housing sites with a percentage discount. The amount of discount differs on each site to make it affordable. To be eligible to buy a discounted home, you need to meet criteria relating to your local connection and how much you earn (this information is available when you apply).
How to apply
Contact the housing developer directly for more information, and information on how to apply.

Sedgefield News: Team News

It’s old news now - so old you might think it was long done and dusted - that as long term editor of Sedgefield News, I am ready to retire. Well, this edition marks another stage in that campaign. I will continue to manage the advertising, but this is the team now responsible for taking the News forward. Please give them your support.

And finally... I am still responsible for our Facebook & Twitter feeds and, to be honest, it is a younger person’s game. We have a new photo editor, Rudolf Reichel - but we also need someone to manage posts. The need for news & up to date information is very real and the response can be very rewarding. Contact me via Sedgefield News if you would like to help. Thank you. Sandy Clubley

Sue Dobson News & features editor. Contact Sue via email:

Tom Guest Arts & Events. Email:

Tony Magee Diary, Features, Police/NHW, Youth Sport. Email: or call Tony on 07837 114 271.

Chris Lines Sport. Email:

Baroque officially ‘golden’

Baroque Beauty Lounge, a local beauty salon on Sedgefield High Street (no 3) are proud to announce that they have been awarded the Hair and Beauty British Talent Awards Gold Winner for Best Customer Experience.

The judges looked at all the testimonials submitted from Baroque’s clients, as well as looking at their online reviews. Owner, Emma Duffin said ‘We can't begin to explain how excited and proud we are and genuinely surprised that our small, independent local salon in Sedgefield has been recognised nationally. Beauty therapist Danielle and I work very hard to make sure our clients have the best possible experience whilst at Baroque.

We are incredibly passionate about delivering great customer service and it feels amazing to have this acknowledged in such a wonderful way, knowing we won gold based on the feedback our clients have given.’

The salon can be contacted on 623869 or Emma & Danielle proudly display their award certificate.

Expectations exceeded in college’s foodbank goal

A local foodbank project was the beneficiary of a student-led appeal which saw Sedgefield Community College donate a multitude of foods and toiletry items throughout the week in the run up to Christmas.

In a similar appeal last year, around 1,000 individual items were donated, but this time, students and staff outstripped that amount, as almost 1,200 items filled the many boxes, bags and crates which were handed over to the Durham Christian Partnership, which oversees the foodbank project for Sedgefield and Trimdon.

Headteacher Dave Davies commented, “Once again the students have taken a lead on a project that is very pertinent at this time of year. Awareness of local foodbanks is something which we promote at Sedgefield Community College and the way the students have embraced the appeal is testament to them. “This is the second year which we have supported the project, and we have built on our efforts from last year, which demonstrates the impact our awareness is having.

Listening to the conversations of the students throughout the week has been very warming indeed, at a time when giving is paramount.” Last month the school handed over a cheque for almost £700 to BBC Children in Need and next week the students will vote for two charities to benefit from cash donations in lieu of a non-uniform day as the Christmas term concludes.

Fashion show with star quality

Star of BBC Strictly Come Dancing and CBBC’s Tracy Beaker, Dani Harmer wore a Betty’s Boudoir dress to the BAFTA’s Children’s Awards. Boutique owner Lily, and the designers at House of Zana, worked together to create the dress exclusively for Dani.

Flushed with success, the girls at Betty’s put on a catwalk of their own, hosting a Fashion Show to raise funds for the Sedgefield Rangers, who hope to send girls worldwide next year. The night included previews of Betty’s Boudoir's current collections, including garments from local designer ‘House of Zana’. Guests were entertained by local musicians - Chloe Plays Clarinet and the outstanding vocal talents of Kieron Boston really set the tone.

Over 10 Local businesses and crafters attended the evening, with a selection of stalls allowing guests to buy from some of Sedgefield’s small independent businesses all under one roof. The Fashion show was a massive success with over 100 people attending; a great start to the fundraising for 4 Sedgefield Rangers. Image: Dani Harmer in “that dress”

Sedgefield Rangers International selection

The young musicians giving their all outside Sainsbury’s, are from Sedgefield Rangers. They have won selection for Girlguiding trips to Canada, Sri Lanka and the Charnwood jamboree and they need to fundraise! They tell us “These camps will give us fantastic team working skills and personal development as well as being the trip of a lifetime. To go on this amazing adventure, between us we have to raise around £7,000. We have played our instruments in Sainsbury's, held a fashion show with Betty’s Boudoir and had stalls at the snow party and the Sedgefield Primary and Sedgefield Hardwick Christmas fairs.

Many thank everyone who has helped us so far, but we still have a long way to go. Copies of our quiz are available in Jaiz for £1 (£10 M&S voucher first prize + two £5 for 2nd & 3rd) and we are doing Bags to School! If you have clothes, shoes in pairs, sheets/bed linen to donate they would be very gratefully received. It will be weighed & we will receive money per kg towards our goal. The deadline for bags is before the Jan 31st collection date. We hope people will continue to support us.

If anyone would like to make a small donation or offer a fundraising opportunity please get in touch via Sedgefield News.”