THE founders of a flourishing wood meadow at Escrick, near York, were praised for their "vision, commitment and courage" by Simon King, the leading writer, broadcaster and conservationist.

Mr King was speaking before he gave the inaugural Spring Lecture of the pioneering Yorkshire charity Woodmeadow Trust - previously the Hagge Woods Trust - to a packed house at the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall in Fossgate, York, on Tuesday (19).

He said: “I have been deeply impressed by the Woodmeadow Project, undertaken by the Woodmeadow Trust. It is a stunning example of what can be achieved by vision and hard work. By creating a natural habitat for flora and fauna, this splendid wood meadow is a beacon of light at a challenging time for nature and ecology.

“With climate change a dangerous reality, which we ignore at our peril, this wood meadow shows the way forward. It is a wonderful field of dreams, an oasis of beauty, peace and tranquillity and a project of which Yorkshire can be proud."

Mr King said he was firmly behind the children who have walked out of school to protest at the way “our planet is being destroyed.”

“It is an absolute tragedy that young people still at school have to take such drastic action. But somebody has to. In this context, the educational aspects of Three Hagges Woodmeadow are absolutely crucial.

"Visits by schools to this excellent project are a perfect way of teaching young people, not just about geography and biology, but also about the importance of pro-actively looking after and enhancing our natural environment.”

Rosalind Forbes Adam, chair of the Woodmeadow Trust said: “We were delighted and privileged that such a high-profile conservationist like Simon King agreed to deliver our inaugural Spring Lecture. The talk was held in aid of our charity, which takes practical action for nature and people by creating wood meadows and by inspiring others to plant and look after these exceptional habitats.”

“It was also an honour to show Simon around our own Yorkshire woodmeadow and we were very humbled by his enthusiastic and positive comments about our project."

Six years ago a barley field, the site is now a haven for wildlife and has engaged the entire community as volunteers, Friends and visitors in its wide programme of activities, education and science.

Known to millions as a face of Springwatch and Big Cat Diary, Simon King is a real-life Dr Doolittle. His lecture was entitled Talk Like The Animals and he demonstrated how to talk to the animals in your neighbourhood and get first class views of wildlife as a result. He taught the audience how to grunt like a fallow deer, hoot like an owl and cuckoo like a cuckoo amongst others.