IT HAS been a difficult year for the charity with the restrictions during the Covid pandemic. Members were unable to run the normal range of activities or to fundraise. Despite this, 2020 has been busy with planning for the future and adapting activities.

Three new trustees were recruited, Stephen Jeffery, Chris Brunskill and Emma Banks.

The 10 trustees have continued to meet monthly via Zoom and have set up 13 sub-groups to develop activities from fund raising to volunteering. Zoom allowed the AGM to function effectively.

The charity revised and updated its strategic plan. It was shared with a wide range of stakeholders including The Watercress Line and South Downs National Park.

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• A series of guided walks in the summer as part of the 8 Walk challenge to complete the whole trail;

• Regularly updated the website and social media. On Facebook, followers increased to 1,151 people and a reach of 23,600 people. On Instagram and Twitter it now has 464 and 84 followers respectively;

• Have set up its own YouTube Channel Watercress Way Charity - YouTube;

• Improved the Walk Cycle Ride pages to provide guides for users for the whole route and for shorter options;

• Updated the Down the Line page with the addition of a summary of the history of the two railways;

• Maintained the Wonston bridge site and improved the route through Sutton Scotney;

• Helped clear railway paths when tiers and lockdown allowed access. It assisted the Worthys Conservation Volunteer group on habitat improvements at Broadview and Worthy Down Platforms’

• Mentored five Duke of Edinburgh Award students from Peter Symonds College and St Swithuns school;

• Conducted tree and bat surveys;

• Developed a permanent Children’s ladybird trail, launched for the Christmas holiday;

Local Engagement:

• Gained several significant and strategically located new sponsors: The Chestnut Horse and The Bush pubs;

• Obtained funding from Hellards Estate Agents for a guide book which will be published in 2021;

• Liaised with Hampshire County Council to produce Covid secure working practices and risk assessments for all activities;

• Worked with Winchester City Councils on obtaining new rights of way and helped plan a new path along the disused railway line at Top Field, Kings Worthy;

• Continued to develop plans for disabled access to the Martyr Worthy mile of disused Watercress Line;

• Liaised with South Wonston Parish Council concerning improvements to the Ox Drove and the ramp to the railway cutting;

Plans for 2021

• Install the 10 benches donated by Alresford Rotary Club;

• Install a mag post funded by Winchester City Council for children to examine leaves and insects;

• Have stands at local shows and fetes;

• Run a series of guided walks.

• Continue to enhance the biodiversity of the trail through volunteer sessions