Woodland group to establish Jess’ Place

A campaign is underway to create a special space in Blarbuie Woodlands, in memory of Jess Grant.

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A community effort is underway across Mid Argyll to create a special woodland space in memory of one of the area’s nature champions.

Jess Grant, who was a founding member and energetic volunteer of Blarbuie Woodland, sadly died in 2020, just before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and first lockdown, meaning friends were not able to gather together at the time to celebrate her life and woodland work.

A big effort is now underway by Jess’ friends from Blarbuie and across Mid Argyll to create a woodland space called Jess’ Place.

Tricia Greay, one of the organisers behind the effort, explained: ‘We would like to establish an area in Blarbuie Woodland called Jess’ Place; a calm spot where anyone can enjoy a bit of quiet, laughter, or just take some time to themselves.

‘A beautiful sculpture by local artist Melanie Chmielewska has been commissioned, while the next stage is to prepare and develop the ground area and full setting for this sculpture, in the labyrinth. This is being coordinated by Margaret Kerr.

‘Blarbuie’s woods are sustainably managed by Argyll and Isles Countryside Trust (ACT), and huge thanks must go to the staff and volunteers of ACT, without whom Jess’ Place would not be possible.’

For anyone who would like to contribute, a donations page has been set up on the ACT website, which it is hoped will help fund important items such as seating, planting and surfacing, to make Jess’ Place a special woodland retreat for Jess’ friends, and the wider public.

Tricia continued: ‘As a longstanding volunteer at the Argyll and Bute Hospital, it was a natural progression for Jess to become involved in a charity that worked to improve the health and wellbeing of those with mental health needs.

‘She was not only a trustee of Blarbuie Woodland but was also very involved in day-to-day activities, and being an active member of Blarbuie Roots, the operational arm of the charity.

‘Her wit, sense of humour and encouragement were very much valued; she kept everyone going in such a supportive way.

‘She could often be found with her gloves on, potting up shrubs or preparing beds for sowing seeds and she always contributed to Woodland Open Days; her kale crisps were legendary!

‘Jess’ volunteering at Succoth ward continued, even once the old hospital closed, and she was keen to encourage patients to gain benefit from walks into Blarbuie Woodland.’