‘Scattered heavy showers this afternoon’ said the weather forecast at lunchtime on Friday 9th July, and as the Osprey Team start to set up their stand at the Stilton School Fete conditions didn’t look too promising. But it takes more than a few showers to deter this team, so Paul, Ken, Anya and myself are in good spirits as we prepare to ‘inform and entertain’ the crowds at this Church of England Primary School in the historic village of Stilton. Here is Ken’s report……
‘We’ve got a good position under a covered walkway, so we should be sheltered from the worst of the weather. Our new illustrated display-boards are terrific, and give all the basic facts about Ospreys and Rutland Water. They are the backdrop to our stand. We’re right next to the candy floss stall and the coconut shy, and there’s another stall which involves throwing bean-bags at a pile of empty tin cans. They fall with a terrific clatter every few minutes. There’s even a pair of stocks and some sponges and buckets of water…any volunteers from the team to be the first victim? Soon, young children are sitting at our table making Osprey masks. Michelle has made a very lifelike one in the correct colours, but the children like more colourful effects and we soon see purple, green, orange and red Osprey faces!
Parents show a lot of interest, and we give them leaflets and pictures to encourage them to bring their families to Rutland Water to see the Ospreys for real in the summer holidays which are starting soon. The lap-top is showing recent footage from the Manton Bay nest, which everyone likes. We are just thinking of starting the Fishing Game ~ with the plastic fishes actually in a water-filled paddling pool ~ when the heavens open and one of those ‘scattered heavy showers’ descends on us. We have to abandon the game on ‘Health & Safety’ grounds. I can imagine 5R(04) saying to his mate back at the Reservoir ‘No, I’m not going out fishing this afternoon in this weather….Health & Safety won’t allow it!’
Fortunately we’re quite dry under our covered walkway, and the masks are proving very popular. Paul, Anya and Michelle are all wearing them now. A young man approaches and says he was fishing in a lake near the village last spring when an Osprey suddenly appeared, cruised around for a while, and then dived into the lake and caught a fish! We give him all the leaflets, with instructions to ‘Call this number’ if that ever happens again!
The fete is now in full swing! Michelle disappears into the school and returns with a lovely plate of home-made cakes, which are soon gone. She has also found a cheese stall ~ well, this is Stilton after all! The school caretaker is now ‘in the stocks’ and getting a good soaking from the children! All good fun.
We meet the Headteacher, Miss Baughan (one of my old students). Her school is already part of the Eco-Schools scheme, and she is keen and enthusiastic when Michelle suggests we might come again in the autumn and give a presentation to some classes. Contact numbers are exchanged.
By 5.00pm, ‘scattered heavy showers’ have become ‘prolonged downpours’, so most people are drifting home. We decide to pack away, but not before we’ve had more cakes and tea…….and of course said ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Thank you’ to Stilton Primary School for letting us share their Fete. We’ll see you again!
Since the end of March, Michelle and the team have visited, or received visits from, eighteen Primary and Secondary Schools from all over the East Midlands. This does not include visits from Universities including Nottingham Trent and Leicester. Several hundred young people and their teachers have learnt about the return of the Ospreys to Rutland Water, and hopefully thoroughly enjoyed the process. We hope to renew contact with them again in the autumn and let them know the final outcome of the 2011 season.’