Group helping to protect patch of Norwich woodland

A group keeping a small patch of Norwich woodland clean and tidy are back and have big plans for the leafy oasis.

The Friends of Marlpit Woods is a group dedicated to ensuring the leafy cranny in the corner of the west Norwich estate remains clean, and following the completion of a �4,000 path are looking to bring new signs and a natural shade of blue to the spot.

A decade ago Robin Woodruff, 73, was inspired to start the group after doing a course in woodland management.

However, after four years the number of volunteers had dwindled down to two and he had to stop due to illness following a quadruple heart bypass. Little did he realise it would kick off again in January this year.

'I just liked to see the place clean and tidy as I've walked through there and been with my dog for the last 50 years and just enjoyed it, so it was good to hear that it had started again,' said Mr Woodruff, of Oval Avenue.

Since that meeting, the group have grown to more than 20 members, with monthly litter picks recently aided by 20 members of the Norwich Army Cadet Force.

Together, they filled two skips with rubbish, though Mr Woodruff, who was widowed five years ago, played only a sideline role. 'I promised my wife Mary that I wouldn't do any more picking up in the woods so now I don't,' he said.

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'I can't break that promise to her but I've done a few things like lopping elderberry bushes.'

The wood acts as home to wildlife including muntjac deer, while Mr Woodruff said he has also spotted birds such as nuthatches in the wood.

And after receiving a big boost from Norwich City Council in the form of a �6,600 grant, some of which led to the creation of the new path, they also hope some other grant bids will be successful to help them keep up the good work.

Among plans in the pipeline are the planting of oak trees, as well as two new signs for the wood. These would include animal pictures by students from nearby Valley Primary school, who it is hoped will also soon be planting bluebells in the shady spot.

Valley Primary School head teacher Chris Spinks said: 'Living primarily in an urban area we think it's important that the children experience wild life and learn to preserve it, and we often take them on walks through the wood. We think the work that the group is doing is absolutely excellent.'

To find out more about the group, who meet regularly, call 01603 743623.

Do you have any stories from Marlpit? Contact reporter John Owens on 01603 772439 or