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Dongria Memorial Service 10th July 2021

On Saturday we had a beautiful Quaker Memorial Service for Dongria. As Dongria had wished, there was an unattended cremation followed later by the service. Dongria was represented by her ashes, images: a photograph and a drawing, and her flat cap, and trees, one a new-sprung oak sappling.

After Dongria passed away, an oak tree sprang up in the middle of the lawn at Kate’s (Dongria’s daughter, Dongria spent the last 6 weeks of her life at Kate’s home in Cheshire).

Quakers do not have a hierachy or ministers. A Quaker Elder holds the space and introduces the meeting. Anyone who feels moved to speak may stand and do so. The act of speaking in the meeting is called: to give ministry.

We thank the Quaker Elder, Alex. We are greatful to everyone who chose to give ministry and for their wise, funny, sad, and beautiful words. We are greatful for the silence. The stillness in the room was profound. Together we created a fitting memorial for Dongria.

We would like to thank Lambert Print and Design of Hebden Bridge for gifting the memorial card

Obituary

Dongria-obituary-lamberts-1

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‘Action is the life of all. If thou dost not act, thou dost nothing’ Gerrard Winstanley


New Bursary to help students study Natural Flood Management named for our Dongria

 New bursary announced to help students researching natural flood management

The money will support two students from the University of Leeds.

A new annual bursary has been set up to support Master’s students investigating natural flood management. The bursary is named in recognition of the pioniering work of our own, Dongria Khond. It will be under her original name, Penny Eastwood.

 

The bursary will be funded by Calderdale Council, the Environment Agency, National Trust and Slow The Flow and will support up to two students per year. The first bursary has been awarded to Sophie Tankard, who is already studying the effects of natural flood management in Hebden Bridge after being inspired by her previous volunteer work with Slow The Flow. Natural flood management is a way of slowing the flow of water using natural materials like stones, wood and plants.

As part of her Master’s degree, Sophie will analyse the effectiveness of the natural flood interventions which have already been installed in the Calder Valley which will help inform Slow The Flow’s future projects. This will also contribute to ongoing research for ‘Water@Leeds’ at the University of Leeds.

This research will also help continue Dongria’s focus on fighting climate change in the Calder Valley. Dongria has been a pioneer and activist in fighting the effects of climate change for the past 30 years. We known her best as a founding member of Treesponsibility, and The Source Partnership.

Sophie Tankard, who will receive the first bursary, said, “I feel very lucky to be selected as the first recipient of this bursary. This will help me fund my course costs and will allow me to create a project in collaboration with Slow the Flow. I am deeply humbled to be selected for the Penny Eastwood bursary and I hope to create informative research for Slow the Flow.”

Dr Megan Klaar, Sophie’s supervisor at the Univertsity of Leeds, said, “This bursary will be a wonderful boost for talented students such as Sophie, enabling them to make meaningful contributions in our approach to creating a more sustainable environment.”

Dongria said, “Studying climate change at university flung me into despair; but then it changed my life. Facing up to the fact that the status quo is wreaking havoc with the climate and offering death and misery to the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planetis a huge challenge, but it is also the first step towards a life of activism. My hope is that the recipients of this bursary will find their own path towards bringing about a sustainable future, and that their research into Natural Flood Management willhelp to protect the valley I love. Like Gerald Winstanley says: ‘Action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing’”

Bede Mullen, Chair of Slow The Flow, said, “It’s great to see this annual bursary in natural flood management established. It will help to demonstrate the effectiveness of such measures to reduce the impact of flooding in the Calder valley and beyond. Sophie is an ideal first recipient of this bursary,as she was inspired by working as a volunteer with Slow The Flow in Hardcastle Crags.”

Sally Kelling, Flood Risk Advisor, Environment Agency said, “We are very pleased to continue our support for partnership work at Hardcastle Crags with funding for Master’sstudent bursaries to help develop the evidence base for natural flood management. Penny has been a fantastic catalyst for positive change in the Calder valley and we really want to celebrate everything she has achieved.”

Burning on the Walshaw Estate at the head of Hebden Water increases river flows in Hebden Bridge.

Hebden Bridge is prone to flooding. There’s no denying it, but there are things we can do to minimise the risk. For some time now it has been thought that the burning of heather for grouse shooting purposes has been contributing to the flooding risk, and there has been campaigning going on locally to try and have this addressed.

In May this year, Treesponsibility commissioned Dr. Nick Odoni (honorary fellow, Department of Geography, Durham University) to undertake a modelling study and investigation into how annual burning on the Walshaw Moor estate may affect high river flows in Hebden Bridge, as well as a further supplementary study into the effects of increasing sphagnum cover.

Click here to see the modelling study, showing the main results, conclusions and recommendations for further work.

Click here to see Supplementary Work and Conclusions, to accompany the Summary Short Study:

The Scientists Views on Peat Bog Restoration

 

Damaged peat in Calderdale

Damaged peat in Calderdale

Imagine pouring a glass of water onto an impervious slope, say for example a concrete paving slab. The result is obvious. All the water runs downhill at high speed, and whatever’s at the bottom gets a good soaking. This is what happens when heavy rainfall lands on our hillsides. Now imagine a layer of fabric is laid over the slope and repeat the experiment. Sure, most of the water will eventually make it to the bottom of the slope, but the fabric will absorb a lot of the water and slow its progress downhill. If the slope happens to be the valley sides and the bottom of the slope happens to be a river flowing through your town, you can see immediately the benefit of slowing down the flow like this. It now takes a lot longer for the water to reach the river and the danger and severity of flooding is greatly reduced.

One of the main activities Treesponsibility undertakes is the planting of trees on our vulnerable valley sides, thus reducing the impact of flooding during these periods of ever increasing frequency and intensity of rainfall. For a start, the trees actually capture quite a lot of water on their leaves and branches. This slows the rate at which water reaches the ground, and in fact much of it actually evaporates without even reaching the ground at all. Then, there are the roots. These make their way down into the ground, allowing some of the water to percolate down away from the surface and further preventing excess run off. And of course, the trees themselves take up quite a lot of it, most of which is also returned to the atmosphere by transpiration through the leaves.

It’s not only trees that perform this vital service though. All plants do this to a greater or lesser extent. A really important example of this is sphagnum moss, which is the principal constituent of peat bogs. These mosses have the particular characteristic of not decaying rapidly when they die, but instead forming deep deposits of peat, upon which the future generations of moss continue to grow. They also have the ability to store huge quantities of water, both in their living and dead tissue, so a blanket bog on the moorland above the valley provides enormous capacity for slowing down run off.

In recent years a great deal of research has been carried out on the way this takes place, and on the value of peat bogs generally. CLICK HERE to read about how South West Water and its partners are restoring the peat bogs of Exmoor, and see just what a difference this amazing but undervalued resource can make.