I met Judith a few weeks ago in  The Fork in the Road restaurant over dinner ,to dicuss whatMiddlesbrough meant to her ,Green space within our Town about her involvement  in the local group GreenStuff Middlesbough . Here I met someonewho was passionate about her town and could see the importance and many benefits to why a town like Middlesbrough needs as much Green as possible. After meeting Judith and hearing her  story on what  Middlesbrough and green space means to her I felt I met someone who cared deeply about her area and was one of the people in our town which makes it such a good to live, Here is Judith’s Story. 

My Meeting with Judith In the Fork in the Road few weeks ago

What does Middlesbrough mean to you? 

I was born in Ormesby when it was a small village and the occasional bustrip into ‘the town’ was an exciting event.  I was fascinated by Wright’s Tower House and the way your shopping change came down a shute.   My first full time job was in the civil service in Middlesbrough. I could always see the famous Transporter bridge from Ormesby Bank – along with many otherbuildings.  I think Middlesbrough is a great town because it offers everything – shops, cinema, theatre and it is so easy to get to our spectacular coast and countryside.  After living in landlocked Birmingham for a few years I had a new appreciation of just how lucky we are. 

#GreenMiddlesbrough

Why is green space important for the town?

Greenspace is invaluable to any town but to Middlesbrough more than most.  Itis a well researched and documented fact that just being in green space isvital to physical and mental well being.  It is calming and uplifting, itgets us away from the everyday stresses of life which helps improve our menta lhealth and sense of well being. It provides an opportunity for exercise – atwhatever pace you choose – while listening to birdsong and observing all the wonders of the flora and fauna we find in our green spaces.  It provides us with the delight of  foraging during the late summer and autumn. Winter brings the chance to sledge down the slopes, have a snowball fight and relax with hot toast smothered with hedgerow jam and a good slurp of homemadesloe gin.  What’s not to love about our green spaces?

I think our beautiful green spaces are so very important for our children. It is much healthier, more stimulating and simultaneously educational for children to run and play freely in green space.   Children learn to communicate and cooperate effectively in games with their peers in green space and the lack of man made structures helps them be inventive in the games they create.  Who does not have memories of the delights of beck jumping games,building secret dens, tracking games and climbing trees.  The long meadow grasses can become the sound of waves while marooned on an island in the middleof an ocean.  The possibilities are endless if we let children be free ina green space.

Why is greenstuff important to you?

Greenstuff is not just important to me but important for current and future generations.  Greenstuff came about when Martyn Walker mobilised people to fight to save our precious Acklam meadows and woodland.  We cannot let itbe concreted over and have the most important asset Middlesbrough has to offer lost forever. The meadows and Foxes Wood are ancient and irreplaceable. They can never be recovered in their current form once they have been built on.

Middlesbrough has among the worst data for poor health, drug abuse and suicide in thecountry.  In fact it has the highest suicide rate in the country.  Given that we know green space is important for mental health we, as atown, need to be encouraging more people to avail themselves of this free,green, health service.  I know there is a doctor’s surgery which organisesguided walks through the Acklam meadows for patients suffering from depression.  Walking, jogging, running is also good for combating heartdisease and on the meadows you are in fresh air rather than breathing in the fumes from roads.  Heart disease is also implicated in vascular dementia and exercising in a green space, where you can meet friends and neighbours and pass the time of day, is a good antidote to developing dementia.

Greenstuff is important to me for all these reasons but also for the sheer pleasure ofseeing so many varieties of gloriously coloured dragon and damselflies, anamazing array of butterflies and moths, so many delightful wildflowers, the chance of glimpsing deer in the woodland or drinking from the pond and so many other forms of life.  My highlights this year were the sounds of the sparrowhawks nesting on Mandale and the beautiful marsh or chids nestling in the swaying meadow grasses, but I love the call of the resident tawny owls and the swooping bats and house martins.  There is so much to fall in love with in our greenstuff places.

If your readers haven’t already joined Greenstuff, Stand With me or Our Greenways I would urge them to do so and be part of voice raised to preserveour green spaces.

What do you think are the best points of the town?

Well,you won’t be surprised to hear, that for me, the best features of our town arethe Acklam meadows and woods, the Ormesby beck valley, Nature’s world and the natural green spaces around Nunthorpe.  However, I also love Fork in theRoad as I think it was an amazing vision of  Andy Preston’s to help trainup people who might otherwise not find employment.  I love the new initiatives such as Baker Street, which adds a new, fresh vibe to the town.  I think we need some boutique shops and some more interesting barsto run alongside those areas to attract more people into the town.  New in town entertainment would also enliven the town and make it more attractive tot he young.

What future do you see for Greenspace in Middlesbrough?

Unless the council changes it’s plan to run a major road through the richly biodiverse habitat which is Mandale meadow, I think the future for green space in Middlesbrough is bleak.  The proposed road could be a circular route through the new estate, with a separate entry and exit point or the councilcould build an, admittedly more expensive route, via the farm road whichalready exists and negotiate with Stockton Borough Council for the road to exit onto the A1130 on the Stockton side of the A19 Mandale interchange.

We also need to keep Nature’s World with it’s amazing orchard and many splendidfeatures – and Middlesbrough’s only Botanical Garden.

Article By Chloe Tempestoso 

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