Still loving Latitude ten years on

Saturday 18th July 2015

My Wild Life is a weekly column running each Saturday throughout 2015 in the East Anglian Daily Times. Each week it features stories of action for local wildlife

By Kerry Stranix, communications manager

I clearly remember receiving the email about a new music festival that was being planned deep in the Suffolk countryside. It was billed as ‘more than just music’ and the festival organisers asked if the Trust would like to help run activities for children. We thought, for about two seconds, and then asked to hear more. For many years Suffolk Wildlife Trust has been at the forefront of environmental education in Suffolk, if you’ve ever been to the Suffolk Show you may well have pond dipped or bug hunted with us and in the last few years we’ve been exploring Forest Schools and Wild Beaches with thousands of young people all over the county.

The idea of a major music and arts festival in Suffolk was intriguing, and we were pleased that the festival organisers were keen to add Suffolk’s natural wonders to the line-up. It was with excited anticipation that Judy, our head of education, and I went along to meet Sharon at Henham Park back in 2005. What a treat it was – the site is wonderful and it soon sparked a flurry of ideas from Judy on how we could bring the wildlife of Henham Park to festival goers. We’ve had late night bat walks, attended by hundreds who’d shunned the headline act for glimpse of a pipistrelle, forest bug hunting and den building, tree spirit nature trails and after a few years we even managed to persuade the organisers to let us dip the lake!

I can’t quite believe the Trust has been at Latitude for ten years and in that time we have met and explored wildlife at Henham with thousands of young people and families. In fact a colleague spent a lovely afternoon whittling elder with the drummer from 2008 headliners Elbow.

Judy has been heading up the Trust’s effort every year, and her highlight is the lake dipping platform. “It’s a huge draw” she said “we find all sorts, things like dragonfly and damselfly nymphs – and it’s certainly not just the children who are fascinated. We meet people from all over the country – but we also meet many who know the Trust and our nature reserves. It’s great to catch up with local families.”

Latitude is a wonderland for children – my own daughters come away each year, covered in a mixture of face paint and mud, and just that little bit closer to nature. We’d love to see you if you’re at the festival, do come and say hello.

Spend your summer with Suffolk Wildlife Trust, we’ve got events, wildlife courses and family fun up and down the coast and across the county. Here’s what we’ve got coming up in the next dew days - visit our What's On pages for full listings:

Tagged with: Outdoor learning, Heritage Lottery Fund, My Wild Life