What small changes are local people doing to make a big difference to nature? A new photography exhibition at one of Greater Manchester’s largest green spaces, Dunham Massey, lets you get up close and personal with those who are doing their bit for nature every day.
From Saturday 29 June – Sunday 3 November the walls inside the hall at the National Trust attraction will display the faces of people who are doing their bit to look after nature every day. The photographs in Local Lives: Small Change, Big Difference have been captured by Manchester based photographer Jan Chlebik. Inspiring stories include those of Justine Lord, Richard Pennington and Jean Caldwell amongst eighteen others, with visitors encouraged to join the conversation about what small changes they would make to look after something they care about.
Justine Lord has been a volunteer ranger at Dunham Massey for several years, and after spending lots of her time outdoor when younger, she takes pride in giving back to nature in her varied role – whether this is through monitoring the wild butterflies and bumblebees, or looking after the deadwood ecology in the deer park.
Richard Pennington, Farmer, has been influential in the redevelopment of Yew Tree Farm on the wider Dunham Massey estate. New hedgerows, trees and ghost ponds have been returned to the farm leading to an improved natural habitat and increased numbers of rare birds and mammals, including hares.
Jean Caldwell is a resident of Sale and does her bit for nature by planting and maintaining flowers in an alleyway near her house. The daffodils, snowdrops, bluebells, ferns and even nettles create a home for insects and wildlife amongst urban life. As a community space, the alleyway evolves year on year as people come together to add their own plants into the mix. Jean says, ‘I hope the impact of creating a pleasant alleyway from a virtually impassable space has brought colour and a smile or two to the lives of those who walk through on a daily basis. The topiary Teddy Bear is certainly a hit with the children, even if some of them insist it’s Peppa Pig!’
Fresh air is recognised as having medical benefits today, and medical professionals recognise the positive effects this can have on mental health and wellbeing. A 2016 study by Natural England showed that 1 in 9 children had not set foot in a natural environment over the past year. Jessica Webb, Visitor Experience Manager at Dunham Massey says, ‘During the First World War, when Dunham became the Stamford Military Hospital, Sister Bennett was an advocate of ‘the fresh air cure’ and soldiers often recuperated outdoors in the garden or on the moat.
Today Dunham is one of Greater Manchester’s primary green spaces and provides an escape from city life to thousands of people a year. What better place to host an exhibition showing everyday people who are doing their small bit for nature. We hope visitors will be inspired to think about what they can do to make a big difference to nature both today and for future generations.
The exhibition opens at a topical time, with looking after our environment being high on the agenda globally as well as locally. In 2019 Trafford Council is playing a leading role in the Great British Spring Clean, the UK’s biggest mass-action environmental campaign. Organised by Keep Britain Tidy, the campaign gives an opportunity for thousands of local residents to do a small part to make a positive difference, including removing tonnes of litter and rescuing thousands of plastic bottles and aluminium drinks cans for recycling.
Sir David Attenborough, who featured in Dunham Massey’s Faces of Change portrait exhibition earlier in the year, has also been credited with raising awareness of the environmental impact of single use plastics and having a positive impact on changing people’s behaviour.
Local Lives: Small Change, Big Difference can be seen in the house at Dunham Massey from Saturday 29 June – Sunday 3 November. (House open Saturday – Wednesday. Normal admission applies. Seenationaltrust.org.uk/Dunham-Massey for full details).