From drug den to wildlife haven

A FORMER drug-littered lay-by has been transformed into a wildlife haven thanks to a £300,000 project.

Anglers who have waited two years for a new nature reserve to be completed say they are delighted with the final result.

Wheatley Hill Angling Club held a gala day and a fun day in aid of its Junior Angling Club to mark the transformation of a former lay-by on the A181, 20 yards from the roundabout near the entrance to Wheatley Hill.

Angling club secretary Jonathan Naisbett, who is also a coach in coarse angling, said he is more than happy with the club’s achievements.

He said: “It’s fantastic and I’m so proud. All the comments from the area suggest that this is the best thing that’s ever happened to Wheatley Hill. It’s what everyone is talking about.”

The funds for the reserve renovation came from a variety of funding organisations including The Big Lottery Fund, Groundwork UK, Community Spaces, the Environment Agency, as well as cash from the public.

Activities during the event included fishing competitions, a junior forest hunt, a count the stick insects contest and free fishing coaching was also provided.

Councillor Brian Wilson, who represents the village on Durham County Council, also helped fund and guide the landscaping work.

He was described as a “mentor who was very important in telling us the things to do right” by Mr Naisbett.

Mr Naisbett added: “We’ve raised over £500 for the junior club and that will provide equipment, away days and a safe base for their competitions.

“It was a really good day, around 100 people turned up. It was a lovely hot day and the food and events went down well.”