MEMBERS of a fishing club have landed a real catch after transforming an anti-social hotspot into a £300,000 nature reserve.
Wheatley Hill Angling Club members have spent the past two years revamping a wooded area off Wingate Lane, in Wheatley Hill.
Jonathan Naisbett from the club said before the work, there was just a 100-yard strip of lay-by which was a regular haunt for drug users, who left paraphernalia around.
The 35-year-old self-employed web designer from Wheatley Hill said: “It was absolutely filthy and there was just a little pond near it. Nobody took any interest in it.
“It’s nothing at all like when it first started.
“Now lots of families come down and our local police officer, PC Paul Gooden, got the message around that drug use would not be tolerated and we have had no problems since.”
The site boasts 14 acres of pine forest and meadow, nature trails, a 1.3-acre lake, disabled access and a new 50ft classroom where youngsters are coached in angling.
Jonathan, who is married to Marcia, 37, and is dad to Nicole, 15, Alicia, 13, and four-year-old Ethan, said the site is also one of the few places in the area where bluebells bloom every year and it has one of the best fungus collections in the region.
The nature reserve has also won a Best New Nature Organisation award for the past two years.
The next phase of work will see toilets installed, and security fencing put up.
The work is expected to be complete by August 10, ready for an official launch and junior gala day on August 20.
During the event, from 10am-4pm, there will be various fishing competitions, free coaching, a junior nature hunt through the forest with prizes available and a count the stick insects competition.
In the future, there are plans to install another pond so more people can enjoy fishing.
The work was made possible thanks to funding including a £50,000 Big Lottery grant and £20,000 from the Environment Agency and other donations from the local community.
There is a waiting list to join the adult section, but any juniors wanting to find out more about the club can call 07514 022069.