Pond dipping project success at Leybourne Lakes Country Park

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Last Updated: 14 Nov 2016 4:22pm

Young visitors to Leybourne Lakes Country Park can enjoy a new-look interactive pond dipping area thanks to a successful £8,000 bid for funds to improve the educational programme at the Park.

Leybourne Lakes Country Park, which is owned and managed by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, is home to a huge variety of wildlife and the regular educational workshops led by the Park Rangers are proving to be very popular. Children of all ages can discover the wide array of species that live in the park's ponds using nets, trays, magnifying glasses and ID charts.

Earlier this year, the Park Rangers submitted an £8,000 funding bid to the Tesco Bags of Help Scheme, which is run by Tesco in partnership with Groundwork UK. The bid was a success and, with the funds in place, the Rangers commissioned local sculptor Steve Portchmouth to help design, create and improve the pond dipping area. 

The new pond dipping area includes four unique flat benches. Each bench has two aquatic invertebrates engraved into the top, perfectly designed to allow children to trace over the designs with paper and crayons. Two tables provide a special place for the fish tank and other receptacles, where children can place the creatures collected during their pond dipping workshop until the end of the session. An 'interpretation' panel and lectern depict a variety of pond creatures and illustrate life above and below the water while the addition of a small water vole, which is carved into the frame of the lectern, helps bring the creatures to life. A large feature Totem archway welcomes visitors to the dipping platform drawing the eye of visitors and encouraging them to investigate. Attached to the Totem archway legs are for large sculptures carved from locally sourced oak and chestnut: a Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Stoat and a Newt - all species that can be seen and heard close by.

Cllr Maria Heslop, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Community Services, says: 
"We are thrilled that the Pond Dipping Project was selected to receive funding through the Tesco Bags of Help Scheme. Many thanks to Steve Portchmouth and our Park Rangers for all their hard work in applying for the grant and designing the scheme. As a result, we've been able to create something really special for local children to enjoy."