The Friends of Hilbre Newsletter 
Volume 1, Issue 35 - Online version
April 2011

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Friends of Hilbre
Plan Your Visit.
How to Join.
MIU Events.
Volunteers' Work.

Inside this issue:
Task Reports.
Notice Board.
Benefits in Kind.
Ten Years on!
Safety Notice.

Archived Newsletters


Buoy Masters buildings and Survey Mast (postcard 1914)

The Friends of Hilbre re:
Membership Forms,
General information,
Volunteers Work: Tasks, Open Days, Seal Watching, Mobile Information Unit

All our volunteers, for insurance purposes, are required to be a member of the Friends of Hilbre and over 18 years of age. For Membership Application Forms please e-mail our Membership Secretary at:

Tides and Information
Wirral Country Park Ranger Service 0151 648 4371

Wirral Council Web Site:

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The Friends of Hilbre Annual General Meeting

Thursday, 19th May 2011, 7.30 pm
Venue: The United Reformed Church Hall,
Bridge Road, West Kirby

This is our members’ opportunity to come to hear about the work of the Friends of Hilbre over the past year and to raise any issues that are important to you.

You can add items for the agenda, or nominate members to join the committee.
To do so, please contact Allen Burton by 1st May 2011 at

Guest Speaker: Josef Hanik,
Senior Ranger - Wirral’s Coast
Topic: ‘An Update on Recent Developments on Hilbre’

There will be cakes and refreshments to help us to celebrate our 10th anniversary and we will have a raffle to raise funds for The Friends of Hilbre.

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Task Day Reports

The first Task Day of 2011 took place on Sunday, 6th March. The weather did not seem promising at first but it improved as the day wore on. There were only three volunteers but, working like Trojans, we put in a good day’s graft and achieved our objective. We had to walk across before we could even begin, which meant, of course, that we also have to walk back to West Kirby at the end of the day.
Jo, the Ranger, has plans for the two storey building. He would like to see it returned to full working order. For any possible work to begin it was necessary to clear the place. There were contractors due on the Island the following day, Monday, and they had agreed to take any “stuff” off at the end of the day. So our task was to get all the beds, mattresses and other furniture out of the house and take them to a point where the contractors could easily access it. This was in the yard by the Buoy master’s workshop. It was quite hard work for the three of us but we did it (see picture).

Jo had also asked us to replace the Green Flag: the old one had flapped so much that it had been reduced to half a flag. This was done with due ceremony.

Allen Burton

Photo above: The debris after the house clearance.
Photo right: The new green flag flies.

The April task took place on a glorious, warm and sunny day and there was a great turnout of 10 very enthusiastic volunteers. Some of the group spent the morning collecting rocks so that they can complete the walling and seating area on the southwest side of the island. Some of us tried to pull bracken on Heather brow, but there were very few bracken shoots appearing. This in fact was a very good thing and shows that the bracken pulling that we have done over the years has really helped to weaken the bracken stranglehold on Hilbre and allow the heather to come through. In comparison, on Middle Eye where there has not been any bracken control, the bracken shoots are much more advanced.

Left: Task Day volunteers enjoying a rest.

In the afternoon, some of the volunteers sorted the equipment in the Goat Shed and then later joined the rest of us weeding the paved area outside of the single storey building; we managed to clear the main area at the front free of weeds, which was no mean feat. It was also nice to see Dave Cavanagh (the previous Hilbre Ranger) who dropped by to have a chat with us. All in all it was a very enjoyable day.

Nicky Norriss

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Notice Board


On page 2 of Newsletter No. 34 it was wrongly stated that June 25th was Ashton Park Fair and 2nd May St. Bridget's Church Fair. This, in fact, was incorrect and Ashton Park Fair will be held on 2nd May and St. Bridget's on 25th June.

Island Task and Lunch arrangements in June for members.

Each year we provide a special lunch for our volunteers, to thank them for their support. If you would like to attend for this task and lunch please notify Barbara no later than the 4th of June, so that we know the numbers to cater for or e-mail her at

Note for new volunteers on Hilbre Island Task Days

New volunteers are always welcome: If it is your first task on the Island, it may be best to contact Allen Burton first so that we can look out for you. Please make yourselves known to the task leader at the meeting point at West Kirby so that we can introduce you to everyone.

We remind members that due to insurance restrictions and the types of tasks undertaken on the islands, you must be over the age of 18 to participate. In addition, you must bring suitable clothing, garden gloves, waterproofs, food and sufficient drinks for the day.

Membership renewal 2011 to 2012.

We value your continued support, and it is now time to renew your membership of the Friends of Hilbre for the coming year.

You can either return the membership application form to the address at the bottom of the form {paper copy} or come to the AGM to renew your membership.

For those that pay taxes, please also tick the gift aid box on the application form, this enables us to claim money back and makes your money go further towards supporting the work of the Friends of Hilbre.

Prospective members can e-mail for an application form.

Sunday Lunch in June {members only}

There will be a lunch provided by the Friends of Hilbre for our volunteers in June. For catering purposes, and further information, please contact Barbara no later than the 31st May at:

Family low tide walk {open to members only}

This low tide walk one day in September is an opportunity for your family to enjoy Hilbre together. For further information contact Sue at:

Benifits in Kind: Your time is worth money!

Do you know that by volunteering and giving up your time you are helping the FofH to apply for funding? Each year we complete a record of the time that volunteers spend on FofH activities and the time spent by the committee on behalf of the FofH.

When we come to apply for grants, we can be offered funding to ‘match the funds’ that we can raise. Our time volunteering and working on behalf of FofH can be converted to ‘a cash equivalent’ so that we can legally show that we have matched the funding amount we have applied for.
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Happy Birthday, Friends of Hilbre! By May 2011, you will be officially ten years old, having been formed as a group in 2001. Like a human ten-year-old, you have learnt a lot in your young life, experimented with different activities, absorbed knowledge of tides and weather. After all, your home is a tidal island, open to the elements. You are now well on the way to doing some useful work to look after the gem which is Hilbre.

You will build on your experience of repairing a fragile landscape; protecting interesting but very vulnerable buildings, which embody the maritime history of this outpost of the port of Liverpool; linking with wildlife conservation people; and raising some of the necessary funds. You have publicised your work to the public as well as to members, by your award winning web page, , newsletter, and word of mouth.

You have taken seriously your role as voluntary partner to Wirral Borough Council, Hilbre’s land owner. The Parks and Countryside officers, their Ranger Service, especially David and Jo, with the help of both Lynnes, have given time, expertise and grants towards our work on erosion control, painting and repairing, clearing invasive plants, and preparing buildings for public use. The Council’s capital expenditure budget, as well as local funding such as Your Wirral, have provided essential materials, and enabled us to employ contractors. Some buildings are now in a better state: the Lookout, Day Room in the old barn, and annexe to the two storey house. There are two composting toilets for public use, and the slipway of the Lifeboat House has been capped temporarily to slow down its demolition by the sea. There are still many projects which are crying out for urgent attention, such as the crumbling cliff masonry, and refurbishment of the two Victorian houses. These can occupy many Friends in the next ten years.

Then the results will be an astounding achievement of keeping safe the island, its community of inhabited and historic buildings, and the plants and animals which continue to live on the sea shore, rocks, grassy heathland and bushes of the islands.

Wild organisms are not merely a decoration or a hobby, although they certainly give us great pleasure in these ways. Their primary role is to fit into the web of natural life, controlling pests and diseases, and maintaining a balance of population numbers. We have only to think of the crisis of honey bees, our main pollinators of many food plants, to know that wildlife has its basic importance to our own survival. We tamper with it at our peril. The Friends can do our bit by liaising with experts such as the Hilbre Bird Observatory, Natural England, Wirral Wildlife Trust, and the RSPB. From a founder member, all good wishes for your work in the next ten years!

Sue Craggs

Editor’s note: Sue Craggs is leaving as an active committee member this year. She has been a wonderful source of support for the Friends of Hilbre and her knowledge, enthusiasm and dedication to the welfare of Hilbre Island will be much missed by the committee members. However, Sue will continue as a Friends of Hilbre and we hope we will continue to see her at some of the tasks.
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Do you have any memories or stories about Hilbre Island?

We would love to hear from you - please send your contributions to the Newsletter Editor at:

Top left: Birds-foot Trefoil & Thrift, Top right: Bluebells
Bottom left: Sea Spleenwort, Bottom right: Rock Sea Lavender

Members of The Public

Please note that members of the public can visit Hilbre Islands’ Local Nature Reserve throughout the year. The Friends of Hilbre offer specified days and times when the Friends will open up the Hilbre Islands’ Interpretative Centre - the old telegraph lookout building - on the main island to visitors. If the weather is suitable the Friends will also offer seal watching, using the telescope. Dates when the Friends of Hilbre volunteers staff Hilbre Islands’ Interpretative Centre {the old Telegraph Station Lookout building} and offer Seal Watching can be found on the page: Friends of Hilbre Days.

The Friends of Hilbre do not guide visitors across the shore to the islands.
Guided walks by the Council Rangers can be booked when available, as advertised in their newsletter on-line. Enquire at Wirral Country Park Tel. 0151 648 4371 {10.00 am – 4.00 pm, 7 days a week}.

For Your Interest



The Dee Estuary is one of the UK’s premier birding locations for wetland and shorebirds. The Dee Estuary Birding web site describes the best Dee Estuary birdwatching areas with detailed maps and latest bird news for dedicated twitchers and casual birdwatchers alike.


This newsletter is available by e-mail only.
To receive an electronic copy by e-mail (Adobe Reader required) please contact:


Always check the tides before going out to Hilbre. Tides change each day. Use the safe route, it is dangerous to use any other route. For full details of when to cross safely and the safest route to Hilbre see our page: Planning your visit to Hilbre Island.


PLEASE NOTE: All articles and photographs in this web site are ©  COPYRIGHT of Friends of Hilbre unless specifically otherwise stated.

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