Celebration to mark completion of Rotary Club's Great Central Walk restoration project - The Rugby Observer
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14th Aug, 2022

Celebration to mark completion of Rotary Club's Great Central Walk restoration project

A CELEBRATION will mark the completion of Rugby Rotary Club’s centenary project to upgrade a nature trail which runs through the town.

Members from all three of the town’s Rotary Clubs will host a special event in the town centre next month, to recognise the work of volunteers who have spent the last three years sprucing up a three-quarter-mile section of the Great Central Walk.

Rugby Rotary Club has been working with Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to upgrade the former railway line between Hillmorton Road and Abbey Street.

The celebrations, which take place outside Hunt’s Bookshop from 11.45am until 12.15pm on Saturday April 2, will feature street theatre, music and songs.

It will also feature the launch of the Rotary Reading Relay, as part of International Children’s Book Day, a collaboration with over a dozen schools from across the borough themed on railways and the environment.

Rex Pogson, for the Rotary Centenary Committee, said: “The three Rotary Clubs of Rugby regularly work with young people and adults from organisations for the good of the community and all are invited to join the fun and bring their friends.

“It’s a delight that the Rotary Clubs in the town are celebrating the 100 years since the founding of the Rotary Club in Rugby first brought the Rotary motto of Service Above Self here.

“We’re marking the year in all sorts of ways. It’s the culmination of a four-year project to improve the Great Central Way. Laurence Wilbraham and a team of volunteers, working with Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Rugby Borough Council, have put in thousands of hours.

“That’s given us the themes for this informal celebration of them, and a celebration too of the thousands of young people and adults in the town who do so much, year after year, for the quality of our community life.

“Rotary is honoured to work with them in so many ways. This is a bit of fun to say thank you to them all.”

The Great Central Walk route ceased use as a railway in 1965 when Rugby Central Station was also demolished. Without the resources to manage it along its full length, the council handed over the lease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which now maintains the section south of Hillmorton Road – but the Trust doesn’t have the resources to manage the northern section.

Rugby Rotary Club’s project included the removal of undergrowth and trees, improving the Sun Street Play Area, creating a wild play area, providing signage, and laying old railway tracks donated by Network Rail.

Some volunteers were specially trained in strimming and hedge-laying for the project, which continued despite Covid lockdowns.

It also included the installation of three new bespoke benches, funded by The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund and designed by Cawston artist and former Rotarian Eric Gaskell. The back of the bench design incorporates trains, pedestrians and a cyclist as well as wildlife.

The project received the Rotary Club of Great Britain and Ireland Environmental Award last year, picked out as the winner from projects across the UK which fulfil sustainability criteria.

Visit https://tinyurl.com/ycy8yhht for more information about the Great Central Way project, the Rotary Club of Rugby, the Rotary Club of Rugby Dunsmore, or the Rotary Club of Rugby Saturday.

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