A conversation was held. “What do you want to do with the space?” asked Revd Canon Fr David Rowett, Parish priest in the Barton-upon-Humber group; “I’d like a bluebell wood” said Dorothy Fagge, Churchwarden at Saxby All Saints, near Brigg. “Well get on with it then” said David. And she did.

The space in question was a three acre piece of land on a hill next to All Saints Church in Saxby, near Brigg. Formerly a cow field, it had become overgrown and now resembled scrubland. The church on the other hand, sits nestled at the bottom of the hill amid some mature trees. It is a fine example of the work of George Gilbert Scott, an important English Gothic revival architect. The church has recently undergone extensive restoration to return it to its former glory. The field did not complement the space. 

David’s preferred choice was to use the area to have a green burial space but this was unfortunately not possible owing to the number of springs in the hillside; and so the conversation above was held and Dorothy got on with the job of fundraising.

The vision for the area was to have a community woodland planted with native trees with an open space, paths and a play area for children. Did they fancy a green amphitheatre? the landscape gardener asked. Why not.

A nurse by profession Dorothy has been raising money since she was in her twenties, so fifty years later she knows a thing or two about how to do it. Early in her career she was sent on a training course to Great Ormond Street Hospital to learn how to raise money for hospital projects. She said: “Targeting the right funding bodies is obviously key; you need to check that they have a track record in donating to projects such as yours and that way you stand more chance of being successful.” She also took advice from the Woodland Trust which was able to suggest bodies that donate to environmental projects.  

The field cost £30,000 and the parish council gave advice on how funding for this element could be realised. The Woodland Trust provided 750 trees at a much-reduced cost but a large amount of money was needed to pay for landscaping the hill and shaping the pathways. They held exhibitions in the village hall so people could see what they were planning and people got on board. The residents in the village were very generous and Dorothy kept plugging away with grants but it took seven years to complete the project from the initial idea in 2010. Her charm and tenacity also secured her a number of other items being donated including a children’s wooden play tractor, a gazebo and some wooden ‘in memoriam’ benches.

David said: “Lincolnshire has very few green public spaces and it is England’s least wooded county so the fact that we have been able to develop our own green space, for our community, is wonderful.

“It has been several years of hard work to make it possible and it hasn’t been easy but it has been well worth it. The success of the project is a tribute to Dorothy’s hard work and tenacity in raising the money; the generosity of our PCC and community in giving their time and money and the help and support of the local authority, local businesses, the diocese and the Woodland Trust. It’s nice to be able to give something back to our community as they have been wonderful in supporting us.”

“I am absolutely delighted with the finished result" said Dorothy, "it’s everything we hoped for and more. To make the bluebell wood we planted 50 bluebell bulbs around each tree so in time they will self seed. We also put in some snowdrops and wild daffodils and this spring it did look lovely.

“Our community is using the space which is what we wanted. Our amphitheatre has been used for concerts, as a resting place for cyclists and for christening parties. When you all come together you can achieve great things.”