Say hello to a new person in the blog hot seat – Wendy has kindly allowed me to take over the saddle as Guest Contributor just for this month. She’s a hard act to follow but I’ll do my best 😊
My name is Gilly Fraser and although I have to ‘fess up that I can’t lace Wendy’s boots when it comes to knowledge about the countryside, I’m proud to say that she and I have been great chums for a pretty long time.
We met first when Wendy was just a wee girl, but our love of horses and dogs bonded us right from the start and our friendship has been rock solid ever since. Back then I had a little trekking centre based at the Yethouse in Newcastleton and the horsey love of Wendy’s life was one of my ponies – a beautiful little white chap called Thimble. He was a very important member of the trekking gang and Wendy would have spent every waking hour with him if pesky school hadn’t got in the way.
A few years later she became my Yard Manager and trek leader, taking riders of all standards for long peaceful meanders or happy madcap hurtles round the glorious Liddesdale countryside. She could calm the fears of even the most nervous newcomer to the saddle and riders on her treks never failed to come back to the yard with great big beaming smiles.
Wendy’s talent for Art has been obvious from a very early age. It won’t surprise you to hear that ponies have always been a favourite subject – and she even painted an incredible mural of a Unicorn on my office wall. Nowadays of course she’s a really accomplished and acknowledged wildlife artist, specialising in painting the animals, flora and fauna to be found in this lovely part of the world – but ponies still make a regular appearance too.
I heard a really depressing news story on the radio this morning – according to the latest State of Nature report, wildlife in the UK is declining at an alarming rate – 41% of UK species have declined and 133 species have been lost to us since 1500. So thank heavens for people like Wendy who do so much to champion the cause of wildlife and go out of their way to preserve and to educate. Wendy’s award-winning Wildlife Watch Club teaches children about the natural world right on their own doorstep and they are much the richer for it.
They also learn to look after one another, to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities and to find out much more about themselves. I really wish every child could have access to clubs like this one. So rock on Wendy and your Wildlife Watch Club members. You’re all amazing.
Wendy usually finishes each blog instalment by telling readers what to look out for that month, but I won’t even attempt that. Instead I’ll just encourage you to keep your eyes open and enjoy all that nature has to offer, even if like me you don’t know what you’re looking at 😊