We held our Annual General Meeting for our Members on 13th September and were pleased to share our key achievements from 2022. Our support for local voluntary groups and charities resulted in 111 grants being awarded to the value of £1.1 million. The priorities for funding focused on mental health with a specific focus on men and boys, stronger organisations, and greener Stratford. In particular, our commitment to support applications for core costs provided a lifeline for many charities during a time of economic crisis.

We created more opportunities for volunteers to get involved in our work, increasing our number of volunteers from 25 to 80 across a range of activities. One of the great successes has been the monthly Repair Café run in partnership with Net Zero Stratford. This event could not happen without the support of a dedicated team of fifty volunteers. The Repair Café has had an impressive 80% success rate on 580 repairs, meaning that 2.6 tonnes have been saved from going into landfill.

Working in partnership with Stratford-on-Avon District Council, we secured a grant in 2020 from the Better Building fund to improve the area known locally as both Warwick Road Lands and The Lench Meadows, on the edge of Stratford-upon-Avon. Following formal consultation with Natural England, Stratford District Council have been given permission to declare the area Stratford-upon-Avon Local Nature Reserve. The name of the reserve was chosen to firmly locate it within Stratford-upon-Avon to raise its profile and link the natural area with the town, one of the original objectives of the project. The declaration ensures the long-term protection and care for the 72-acre site through an environmental management plan.

We were also pleased to announce that they have secured funding from Warwickshire County Council to improve the biodiversity at Rowley Fields over the thirty-year period through the national biodiversity net gain scheme. This will will see nature conservation in action through effective hedgerow and grassland management and the creation of a wildflower meadow within the publicly accessible grassland fields, just off Maidenhead Road in the town. The scheme will contribute to the recovery of nature by creating new habitats for wildlife and will increase the county’s biodiversity as a result.

Sara Aspley, Chief Executive at Stratford Town Trust said: “2022 has been a year of positive progress for the Trust with our income returning to pre-pandemic levels, enabling us to maximise the impact of our grantmaking. We’re delighted that our commitment to increasing biodiversity and improving access to nature for all has resulted in Stratford-upon-Avon Local Nature Reserve coming into fruition. It will support and protect habitats and species and allow people to get close to nature. The external funding received for biodiversity net gain at Rowley Fields has the double benefit of ensuring that more money from the endowed estate can be made available as grants for local charities.”