The news and updates in this letter have been completely overtaken by the national emergency of the coronavirus pandemic. I would like therefore, on behalf of the Trustees of GOVT, wish you all well and hope that you, your families and communities stay safe in these very difficult times. I think the open spaces of the Great Ouse Valley will be used by many people in the coming months. And I am sure they will find the beautiful meadows and river to be an invaluable amenity – and needed now more than ever.

But first - back to 2019 - and thank you for attending the Great Ouse Valley Trust Event on 30th November in Hemingford Abbots. It was a very stimulating and enjoyable day – and exceeded our expectations (see Partner Meeting Success).

Over 40 delegates from our Partner Members attended. The morning began with inspirational talks by Martin Baker of the Wild Life Trust, Mark Nokkert of the Fenland Biosphere Project and Michael Krause from Plantlife. These were followed by lively round-table discussions with members and trustees; there was quite a buzz in the room as each table summarized their ideas.

We have collated all the input from the discussion groups and this will form the basis of our five year strategy that we are to publish in the coming months.

The key issues that emerged from the day are as follows:

  1. The coalition of stakeholders in the Great Ouse Valley should be a mouthpiece for publicising information on the Great Ouse Valley, and promoting the activities, events and projects created by our partner member organisations through national and social media and publications. Similarly GOVT will share such information amongst its members.
  1. GOVT should continue to seek AONB status through lobbying Natural England and supporting our partner organisations to do the same. GOVT should also work to achieve funding for the creation of a Great Ouse Valley Landscape Partnership Project.
  1. GOVT should campaign to protect the Great Ouse Valley from any new developments that diminish the quality of the landscape, its biodiversity and public amenity. This will be achieved in partnership with the local planning authorities.
  1. GOVT should develop and encourage projects to reinstate high quality natural landscape that has been ‘lost’ from previous developments and/or insensitive farming practices. These projects would include new woodland planting, hedge and meadow reinstatement, and the continuation of work started in 1996 to restore the ancient Ouse willows.

A first attempt to establish new willows on Westside Common, Godmanchester, along Cooks Stream using pollards from the willows on Godmanchester Recreation Ground.

  1. GOVT will encourage public use of the Great Ouse Valley landscape for the mental and physical well-being of both local people and for tourism. GOVT will encourage, through education, publicity, promotion and participation, all members of the community - the young, the old, the disabled and people from diverse backgrounds - to appreciate the beauty of our landscape.
  1. GOVT will, wherever possible, organise and promote public events that celebrate the landscape. These could include a summer festival in 2021 that would incorporate walking the Ouse Valley Way, arts connected with the valley and a general celebration of Ouse Valley culture.


    Summer festival Dragonboat racing and autumn illuminated boat parade on the Great Ouse

  2. GOVT will support local business enterprises that help to identify the character of the Ouse Valley, for example, boatyards, galleries, museums, tourist locations, restaurants historic houses etc.
  1. GOVT will endeavour to establish an office with at least one paid staff member who will forge links, establish and administer the various projects and seek funding.
  1. GOVT will promote and advertise events and projects organised by our partner members such as the Ouse Valley Way Marathon, regattas etc. and will also offer direct support to our partner members’ projects.
  1. GOVT will continue to promote the Ouse Valley Way Long Distance Footpath and ensure that it is properly maintained and way-marked. GOVT will provide information boards along the route, and promote new maps and leaflets. This work will continue in association with the County Council assisted by the grant from the A14 Legacy Fund.


 The route of this stretch of the footpath, from Holywell to St Ives, is under review (see Update to Great Ouse Valley Way GOVT – CCC discussions)


NOW FOR 2020

GOVT was formed in September 2018 as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, and is now required to hold an AGM. This was planned for 22 April 2020 when we were to meet in Houghton Mill. After the business of the AGM we were to have a presentation by Chris Howes, Chairman of the Eastern Region of the Inland Waterways Association. The current pandemic means that we cannot hold the AGM as planned.

However, our charitable status requires us to hold an AGM within 18 months of incorporation. It is therefore our intention to carry out the business of the AGM electronically and details will be forthcoming shortly.


Graham Campbell, March 2020