MEMBERS of a community charity have made a splash with a regional employer to win funding for an environmental improvement project.

The volunteer team at the Maidendale Nature and Fishing Reserve Trust, Darlington are responsible for looking after the 5.6-hectare site, which is situated near the Moorfield Estate on the south east edge of the town.

The Trust had been looking to clear out a substantial amount of overgrown reeds and weeds from the reserve’s fishing pond, which were increasingly clogging up the water and making it harder for local anglers to use it.

After casting around for support, the Maidendale group reeled in a £5,000 grant from the County Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund to fund the work required – and the difference it has made to the environment has been well-received by anglers and other visitors to the reserve.

Established in 2003 as a conservation and recreation facility, the Maidendale Nature and Fishing Reserve Trust aims to encourage, promote and enhance sustainable recreation, nature conservation and education through the provision of a free-to-use nature and fishing facility for local people.

The reserve is widely used by members of the local community, as well as visitors from elsewhere in the region, and contains three disabled access entrances, a network of pushchair and wheelchair-friendly footpaths, pond dipping platforms and wooden board walks, which the Trust is aiming to replace with hard-wearing recycled plastic boards in the medium-term.

Alongside its angling activities, it works with organisations including Darlington Borough Council, the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust and the Darlington & Teesdale Field group to stage events where family groups can learn about and enjoy the different aspects of the reserve.

David Preston, secretary of the Trust, said: “The reserve is very well used by people coming here to either fish or to just enjoy the natural surroundings.

"The habitats that it offers have a big impact in terms of local biodiversity, especially for birds, butterflies and dragonflies.

“Clearing out the pond has made an immediate and a long-term positive impact on how the reserve is enjoyed, and we’ve already had lots of positive comments from our regular visitors about how much better it looks.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, added: “The Maidendale reserve is a much-loved community resource and the volunteers that put so much time and effort into looking after it fully deserve the support we’ve provided.”