The Kingfisher Project
Canford Magna Parish church feels it is in a unique location in this area. It wishes to share the facilities of the church, the Canford Magna Centre, and, in co-operation with Canford School, a VIEWING PLATFORM for disabled groups on the riverside This platform, and the surrounds, provide access to the environmentally, scientifically and artistically stunning stretch of the River Stour that runs adjacent to the church, delivering a new amenity to the people of Poole and Wimborne.
The viewing platform was officially opened September 2015.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, helped launch the project, and said:
“This project enables the diversity of God’s creation to be enjoyed by the wonderful diversity God has created in humanity.”
Canon Chris Tebbutt, Team Rector of Canford Magna, added:
“The idea behind Kingfisher is to make everything God and all he has given us accessible to all. The project boosts inclusion, wellbeing, our environment and, at its best, our spirituality.”
Ben Vesey, Headmaster of Canford School, underscored the school’s support for the project, saying:
“We are part of the Canford community and that means serving the wider community. It is exciting to do something as tangible as this, and pupils will get involved in supporting disabled visitors.”
Claire Young of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, outlined the rich range of wildlife on this stretch of the River Stour:
“The Kingfisher, for which the project is named, is one of a rich variety of birds active on this part of the river – there are also buzzards, Little Grebes, elegant Little Egrets as well as the more common ducks and swans. We also have otters around dawn and dusk, which were once very rare, water voles which make a distinctive plop when the jump into the river and a riot of insects and butterflies.”
The church itself, the ‘living churchyard’ eco garden and the Stour Valley Way add to the attraction for all.
The Kingfisher Project is a way of linking community groups together and creating a venue for all, plus a viewing platform by the river as a place for groups of less-able bodied people, to meet for a nature, ecology, art or leisure event.
The Kingfisher project group are working with RSPB to develop this as a community birding and wildlife area. They will train a group of volunteers to be guides to birding and wildlife along the river, on the platform and around the church. A blackboard with recent sightings will keep everyone up to date, for example Kingfishers and Otter.
Linked with the Riverside Platform is the Canford Magna Centre which provides toilet and refreshment facilities as well as a venue for talks, lectures, arts and crafts, in a friendly and comfortable café environment. Here visitors can be encouraged to engage in conversations with wildlife volunteers and church members. and encouraged to visit the ancient parish church and eco-garden in the churchyard.
Canford Magna Parish Church is the oldest working building in Poole, having been built probably in about 1050 by the Saxons. After the Conquest the Normans extended it significantly adding the tower and side aisles. Over the years it has been used as a place of worship by Cardinal Beaufort (son of John O’Gaunt,) Henry VII and Henry VIII, and many monarchs since. It became the chapel to the Guest family of GKN fame, when Sir Josiah John Guest was Lord Wimborne and what is now Canford School was then Canford Manor. The church is working with The National Association of Decorative and Fine arts to produce a ‘Church Trail’ for visitors.
Following Canford Manor's conversion into a school in the 1920’s, the church has become the chapel to the School, yet it remains the Parish Church for the parish of Canford Magna. The church in recent years has been very active in planting other church communities, such as the Lantern in Merley and St Barnabas, Bearwood, as well as being a source of reaching out into the community, providing resources for children, youth and educational and health both locally and abroad.
The church sees this as part of its mission by providing a service to the community through its vision statement ‘to make God, and everything he’s given us, accessible to all.’
The church also has a vision to enhance the environment around the church to develop the churchyard into an eco-friendly place under the Diocese of Salisbury’s ‘Living Churchyards’ initiative and creating a sensory garden for less-able bodied persons along with improving access to the church itself.