By Ian Mock, BART CEO…
The above picture is a bit like Backroom BART at present. It is a time of year when Accounts and looming AGM’s cause you to have to take stock of what happened last year whilst also ensuring the foundations are laid for the next. It is also the tie of year when being ‘backroom’ is certainly not what you want to be.
Looking back for AGM purposes means signing off Accounts and reviewing the year through the lens of external stakeholders. Have we survived financially and have we delivered against targets set. Well, yes – we did in the end have a very strong year and I am hoping our accountant will agree with me. We also delivered on all our projects despite the awful Winter. There was a time when we worried that this might not happen but that seems to be the way of small charities and small businesses.
We also managed some ‘firsts’ during the year. Sadly, one was having to let an employee go. Apparently something that is not unusual in our sector where funding is not secure but very hard to do all the same. We also received our first commitment to a regular monthly donation. The fact that someone appreciates what we are trying to do to that extent is wonderful. We also received several donations for offering simple help and advice which again is extremely gratifying and a tribute to our team, including a kind £1000 donation from a community group. BART does not expect donations to be a great contributor to funds and to end the year with a donation from one community group we have supported came as a huge boost to morale.
Looking back and logging the events and people we have met and who have helped us, BART really would like to thanks supporters and funders alike for what turned out to be a near record year in the end.
A final look backwards:
BART Trustees again reviewed the work we carry out with the Bristol Avon Catchment Partnership and agreed we should continue to put effort into supporting the partnership in the year to come. Our ability to take part in more complex joint enterprises is vastly increased by our membership of the partnership and we look forward to helping shape future work whenever we can. We are so convinced that Partnership working is the way forward that BART have agreed to become Joint hosts of the Partnership this year.
Repeat business is the aim for most successful businesses. Working on a large estate to help create an inventory of actions to improve water quality and habitat led to a report – like many projects do. A wash up meeting attended by a nervous BART duo resulted in a commitment to £50k of improvements being implemented in the coming year. A delighted BART duo left the meeting looking forwards.
We have some incredibly exciting opportunities which we will share through the newsletter as they unfold. We will be
- Restoring habitat on at least four locations
- Removing some more boulder weirs and improving trout spawning areas
- Continuing our eel in the classroom work
- Working with teachers to improve GIS skills (and river catchment knowledge) in schools
- Interviewing four new Trustees
- Carrying out three Natural Flood Management projects
- Undertaking some exciting eel monitoring
- Delivering multiple fish passage feasibility studies
And that’s what we have planned so far, we are sure many new opportunities will arise. Backroom BART is not a chicken counter but we have made a strong start to the year already.
Finally, most importantly at this time of year, Backroom BART has been walking the rivers – been wading chest deep in some and peering over bridges with team members, landowners and some very knowledgeable anglers. Sharing a love of rivers with others is infinitely more enjoyable than just being a solo carer. Showing my team barbel hovering below spawning beds in beautiful clear Spring sunshine and clear water a few weeks ago and hearing their excitement is perhaps my favourite event of the year so far. These beautiful fish literally held station in the strong flow with tiny fin movements whilst smaller fish were swept across the current dramatically. A stunning sight. Add this to multiple hare and dipper sightings and it has been a marvellous few weeks.
I hope you all get some time on our lovely rivers and streams this Spring and Summer – it really is important that BART and many others continue to work hard to look after them.