Just one mile from central Salford, the Laudato Si’ Centre is transforming an area of disused woodland into a forest school and community facility – with a little help from Thermal Road Repairs (TRR). The revived woodland will help educate children and others about the environment and how it should be cared for – a goal which is at the heart of the Laudato Si’ Centre’s ethos.
“I was very happy for Thermal Road Repairs to contribute to the centre and to their woodland project,” says TRR managing director Aidan Conway. “For us, looking after the environment, working with disadvantaged groups and giving back to our local community are at the heart of what we do, so it felt like this project fitted perfectly.”
The Laudato Si’ Centre has been awarded a £30,000 grant from the Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund which will go towards works that include removing diseased and damaged trees and invasive species, planting native species and shrubs and creating a variety of teaching, activity and contemplation areas. The project will also see the creation of a briefing zone at the entrance to the woods with log seating and a canopy as well as a campfire area and other activity stations within the woodland.
A Forest School and other associated sessions will run in the rehabilitated woodland five days a week, teaching activities such as shelter building, campfire cooking, wood carving and biodiversity studies. The 3,250 sq m wood will also host activities such as willow weaving, storytelling and mindfulness.
Thermal Road Repairs has provided an additional £30,000 of funding to construct a 50m-long accessible path leading around the forest which will provide access to the woodland. Completed in mid-June 2023, the path now provides access to the woodland for all.
Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environment at the Diocese of Salford, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the support from Thermal Road Repairs. The pathway, which has been designed to be accessible by wheelchair users, has opened the woodland so we can now get started with the programmes and activities for all. The work was completed with care for our common home at the heart, aligning with the mission of the Centre.”
The works took three weeks to complete with three people working full time under the watchful eye of TRR supervisor John Walsh. The first task was to select a route for the winding path so that damage to tree roots was minimised. This was then graded, laid with recycled crushed stone sub-base and then topped with hogging – a natural mixture of clays, sands and gravels. TRR used a recycled plastic edging rather than carbon-intensive concrete.
John was aware of the project and initially visited the Centre while looking for volunteering opportunities for members of his team. As a Permanent Deacon of the Catholic church, and with 44 years of road construction and maintenance under his belt, this project saw two important parts of his life come together.
“As a Catholic, spreading the Good News, the Gospel, is a priority - putting faith into action,” he says. “I was glad to do this work at the Laudato Si’ Centre because the centre is important for local communities. It brings together so many different groups of people, irrespective of their backgrounds, cultures, and faiths.”
The ‘Laudato Si’ Centre’ at Wardley Hall was first developed in 2019 as a response to an international call by Pope Francis to people of all faiths in his letter ‘Laudato Si’ – Care for Our Common Home’. The Centre is named after the Pope’s letter, which asked “every person living on this planet” for an inclusive dialogue about how we should shape the future of our planet. The vision for the Centre is to operate as an education and outreach mission that generates environmental hope, rooted in the belief that we can all make a difference through the actions we take.
TRR wishes the Laudato Si’ Centre every success with its ongoing woodlands project. And we look forward to seeing the woodland ‘in action’ once the main works have been completed.
Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. It invests significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve existing ones.
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Main photo credit: Laudato Si' Centre