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Springwatch presenter on community duty

PUBLISHED: 07:29 08 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:01 06 July 2010

Chris Packham helps the Heacham cub pack tidy around the 1953 memorial. Photo: Matthew Usher.

Chris Packham helps the Heacham cub pack tidy around the 1953 memorial. Photo: Matthew Usher.

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham travelled around the region at the weekend to help communities make the most of open spaces - and encouraged youngsters to turn off the computer and grab a gardening fork.

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham travelled around the region at the weekend to help communities make the most of open spaces - and encouraged youngsters to turn off the computer and grab a gardening fork.

Mr Packham helped out with nature projects in Heacham and opened a new wildlife garden in Pensthorpe, before a final stop at the RSPB's Minsmere reserve in Suffolk.

The wildlife expert, who presents the popular nature show from Pensthorpe with Kate Humble, said that although he had not been to Heacham before, he was very fond of the North Norfolk coast and liked to walk his poodles at nearby Snettisham.

The village welcomed Mr Packham on Saturday as part of the BBC's Dirty Weekend, a national scheme to improve the appearance of public spaces and allow nature to thrive.

Speaking about encouraging children to take an interest in wildlife, Mr Packham said: “I think the whole point of doing wildlife on television is to instigate an interest. It's really important for young people to get out and engage with it - all too often we let them sit in front of computers and think they're safe there, but to really develop an affinity with wildlife you have to touch it, feel it and so forth.”

He met volunteers from the Parish Council, the Friends of Heacham Beaches, Heacham 1st Cub Troop and members from West Norfolk Council's Open Space team.

The cubs planted the area around the village's memorial to victims of the 1953 flood and Mr Packham said it was important for children to be given this opportunity.

“If they enjoy it, if they appreciate it, they will look after it,” he said. “The best type of conservation is community conservation and for people in the community to engage in nature. That really is the best thing.”

Other volunteers created a more attractive entrance to the beach by putting a natural rockery around a new access ramp and landscaped the area surrounding the public toilets.

Also on Saturday, Mr Packham opened the new wildlife habitat garden at Pensthorpe, which was created with help from a range of experts and offers tips on how to attract wildlife into domestic gardens.

He opened the area and answered visitors' questions during a two-day gardening and food fair, which attracted about 4,000 visitors.

Yesterday Mr Packham joined visitors at Minsmere to learn more about the unique flora and fauna that the nature reserve has to offer. RSPB staff joined Mr Packham to find out about breeding birds, including nesting swallows, bitterns, littler terns, and dragonflies.

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