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Meet Noel

Smiling man sitting in front of flower bed. Member of Bourne Conservation Group

Noel Moss is a founder member and current chairman of the Bourne Conservation Group. We interviewed Noel to find out more about his voluntary work and how it complements Farnham in Bloom.

How long have you lived in Farnham?

We moved here at the end of 1994. So, just over 20 years.

What do you love most about Farnham?

I love the ambience of a busy and lovely old town dating back to Saxon times. I have always liked old buildings and Farnham’s Georgian streets are a delight. But the town is now being sorely stressed and I greatly appreciate the efforts being made by many who are trying hard to preserve the character of the place that is so greatly enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

As a longstanding resident of Farnham – what is your favourite thing to do here?

Apart from pottering in my garden, walking the footpaths all over the town, especially in The Bourne

Can you tell us a little more about The Bourne Conservation Group and what you do?

The Group was initiated with the limited but vital objective of helping the local councils to manage the patches of woodland and footpaths in The Bourne area. We still do that but, as we look around, we see so many other things that need doing to keep the area looking good and to support our wildlife which is under increasing pressure.

In this way we have progressively taken on a series of projects like those at The Bourne Crossroads, in Middle Bourne Lane and the Old Bourne Churchyard with the stated aim of enhancing biodiversity. This has led us into taking a close interest in the history of the local area. In practical terms therefore we find ourselves felling small trees, planting and weeding flower beds, picking up litter, replacing footpath sign posts and leading historical walks. Throughout all that we are recording whatever wildlife we find, and doing what we can to ensure habitats are conserved and enhanced.

What do you enjoy most about your role within the group?

The best part is undoubtedly getting out and about in the area as a member of our team of volunteers in all weathers, and helping with the tasks mentioned above. Being on the committee, of course, involves rather more than that. Indeed, organisation and administration take up a lot of time but that too has its rewards and I get immense satisfaction from seeing the good results achieved.  A highlight recently has been the conclusion of the project to build a new raised flower bed in the village. This took a long time and was only accomplished when Surrey Highways agreed to build the stonework. It is now an attractive new feature alongside the A287 road and should be popular with the bees.

How did it feel to be personally nominated for a Services to Farnham award last year in recognition of all of your hard work?

I was naturally delighted to have my own small personal contribution to the well-being of Farnham recognised in this way, and honoured to receive the award.  But I was fully conscious of accepting it on behalf of all the volunteers of The Bourne Conservation Group who give up so much of their time to what we are trying to do in the area.

In your time of volunteering with The Bourne Conservation Group, which are the most exciting species you have come across?

Our group has recorded some rare species, for example in 2014 the first sighting in Farnham of the Ivy Bee, only recognised as a species in 1993. This was thanks to Martin Angel who has also done superb work in recording and photographing well over 500 moth species in the area. My own recognition skills are very limited and I get quite excited about almost any sighting. It was great to see the first frogs and toads in the pond we dug in the Old Bourne Churchyard and to see a grass snake swimming in the Middle Bourne Lane pond.  I was pleased to spot the Glanville Fritillary butterfly in Middle Bourne Lane in 2011 and to be able to prove that Painted Lady butterflies had bred there in the same year. It would be great to see an otter in the Wey at Farnham or even to get a glimpse of a polecat, which I read is recovering strongly from near extinction in England.

What hopes and aspirations does BCG have for the year ahead?

We have already started to do some work in Langham’s Recreation Ground on the Ridgeway and we are hoping to take that a bit further by carrying out some light clearance work in the woodland there. We understand we are likely to be involved in Farnham in Bloom again and we certainly hope we can get our sites into the right condition to impress the judges. We have also said we will participate in the national programme of carrying out Butterfly Transects by doing regular walks through The Bourne Woods to record what we see.

Talk us through a typical day of volunteering…

Get up and about early.  Check the weather forecast and finalise the attendance list. Cram all the required tools, kit and supplies into my much abused car, making sure not to forget the first aid kit and the coffee. Get to the site early so that everything is ready for the volunteers when they arrive, typically at 10am.

Brief everyone on the tasks for the day and the Health and Safety issues for the site, the weather and type of work. Get everyone started. By now our excellent old hands know exactly what is required but there is always a need to keep a special eye on any new members and any youngsters who may be attending.

I hope to do my share of the work and perhaps take a few photographs for the archive. Other aspects are answering questions and dealing with members of the public who are often interested or even concerned about what is going on. Avoid potential mutiny by making sure coffee and biscuits are available at 11.30am.

At the end of the session collect up the tools and make sure the site is left in a safe condition. Return home, unload the car, record the number of hours worked by the group. Explain to long suffering wife why late for lunch again.  Follow up any matters that have arisen during the course of the work.

Can new members join The Bourne Conservation Group and what are you looking for in volunteers?

Considering the number of tasks we undertake we are a small group – about 30 active members. We are therefore very keen to recruit new members from anywhere in the Farnham area. No previous knowledge is essential but it certainly helps if members do bring previous skills or experience.

We encourage children to take part and up to the age of 14 they may attend accompanied by a responsible adult, thereafter they may come alone provided they have their parent’s permission. Details are given on our website at  and personal contact is possible by using



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