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Community / Stunning win for Westside woodland in national awards

If you go down to the woods today...one of the surprises at Michaelswood. Photo: P.Johnson/Shetland News

A COMMEMORATIVE dinosaur-filled woodland in the Westside has won two national awards from an independent woodland charity.

Michaelswood in Aith, which is run by the Ferrie family of Ray, Betty and son Alan, will be presented with an award for the finest small community wood in Scotland as well as the Tim Steed Trophy for being the best winning project overall.

The presentation will be made by MSP Tavish Scott in the woodland’s polycrub on Saturday and there will be light refreshments for friends, guests and volunteers who have been involved in the woodland and who were responsible for the upkeep and the past development of the wood.

At the presentation Michaelswood chairman Ray Ferrie will give an account of the woodland’s progress through the judging process and will introduce Scott as the guest of honour.

The judges’ summary said: “Establishing a woodland in Shetland. where almost no other woods are present would have required vision. The establishment of Michaelswood has clearly been a labour of love for the Ferrie family and is an achievement in itself.

“The woodland is obviously well used and enjoyed by many of the dispersed community, as well as visitors to Shetland. The fun and quirky nature of some of the installations clearly add to its appeal, particularly with children.”

Michaelswood, it said, showed it was possible to establish a wood in Shetland and should encourage other landowners to do the same. It also encapsulated how a small woodland can become a valuable asset for the wider community which is “fun, engaging and educational”.

Ferrie said: “My wife, our son and myself are absolutely delighted to receive this award from Scotland’s Finest Woods for our woodland in Shetland.

Blossoms in Michaelswood. Photo: P. Johnson/Shetland News

“Growing trees in an almost treeless environment at 60 degrees north in windswept Shetland presents its own special challenges, and we are particularly delighted to receive national recognition for our years of hard work and perseverance.

“Michaelswood is primarily a community woodland, which was created in the memory of our son Michael, and which the local community has now very much taken to its heart.

“Within the wood there are many amenities and features which appeal to all ages, and the woodland’s main purpose is to serve the community, provide a healthy recreational area, promote the growing of trees, and create a deeper understanding and respect for the environment.

“Many groups of children and young adults, some with special needs,  benefit greatly from visiting Michaelswood, and it was this special relationship with the community which seems to have most impressed the judges.”

The Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards – run by independent charity, Scotland’s Finest Woods – celebrate the contribution that woodlands can make to the people of Scotland and to its environment and economic prosperity.