Cudham Shaws Newsletter - Autumn 2020

Written by Hilary Chittock - Chair of Region Property Group

This will certainly be a year to remember; one full of uncertainties for us all. The site was closed at the end of March, when all but one member of staff (Tony) were furloughed and all residentials/camps and events were cancelled. There have been many challenges for the region, and the loss of income during our busiest months has been a major concern. It was great news when, at the end of July, Girlguiding gave us the go-ahead for “face to face” guiding outdoors; gradually the confidence grew, and the number of units visiting Cudham increased.

Tony has looked after the site well throughout the whole period. Sandy came off furlough for one or two days a week in August to expertly manage the thorough cleaning between the visits and, from September, Kate worked two days a week from home; great to have them both back. In August the Trustees made the decision to make our Region Estate manager, Debbie O’Halloran, redundant - a card was sent to thank her for her work at Cudham & Chigwell over the last six years. We have valued the support of the site holders who have encouraged units to use their sites.

"The girls needed & loved the opportunity to have fun together in the out of doors"

— Brownie leader

We were delighted to welcome Nicola Candlish as the new volunteer Cudham Events co-ordinator. She is already working on ideas to encourage more young adults to be involved with running events at Cudham in 2021. At the end of August, we brought back grass sledging as an activity (with its Covid-19 Risk assessment). We are planning to remain open until at least 31 October so there is still time to encourage units to visit Cudham; connect with Nature and follow the 10 RSPB trail boards positioned around the top & lower sites; the trail takes about 1 1/2 hours to complete & the activities are suitable for Brownies/Guides/Rangers. The nature map costs 50p or choose the Nature Colours or Summer Bug Hunt from the RSPB Growing up Wild Paw Print. Further information is available on the Region website.

The decision has been made to cancel all bookings for residential accommodation at Cudham & Chigwell until 31 December 2020. All those with bookings have been notified. This, of course, increases the financial burden that Cudham puts on the region finances; having been effectively closed for business for 10 months of the year - the “Summer opening” was effective from a feel-good factor & a reminder that Cudham is a good place to bring the girls, but did little to reduce the annual operating deficit.

It is essential that this position is significantly improved in 2021 and with that in mind the Trustees have agreed that a Cudham centre manager should be appointed, initially for 18 months to actively pursue new financial opportunities; particularly targeting schools & disadvantaged group in the Cudham catchment area during mid weeks in the term time. For more information visit our website - and please help us share this.

Our final event for the year will be on Saturday 31 October -5 to 7pm – “campfire, sparklers, hot chocolate”. Socially distanced groups (max 15 +adults) on the “mound” in front of the Ranger Warren.

Spread the word, & help us to make the 2020 season end in a blaze of light!

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