At Kier, we constantly look at ways in which we can enrich and help the communities in which we work.
Here we look at how our Kier Utilities team helped a local community uncover and rediscover an ancient holy well.
Whilst working in Swell in Somerset to install fibre optic broadband and connect rural communities to high speed internet, we were approached by the community to change the location of the broadband cabinet away from an area of local significance.
The local community informed our team that the proposed location for the cabinet was in fact the site of St Catherine’s Well an ancient sacred well that local legend says was a rest and refreshment site for pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury.
Over the years the well had become overgrown and was last recognised on ordnance survey maps in 1904. In consultation with the local parish council, it was agreed to move the cabinet away from the well and organise an action day to clear the overgrown vegetation and restore the well to its former glory.
During the action day, members of the community as well as Kier volunteers and subcontractors joined together to clear the overgrown well and its channel, removing brambles, nettles and a dominant species of sedge that were covering the stone embankment and much of the well’s tough. Removal of these more invasive and dominating species has opened up the channel and surrounding area, allowing a wider variety of species to flourish. Soil build-up was also removed to expose a further step beside the stone trough, bringing much of the original well back into the light.
A dead elm tree was also removed and replaced with a new crab apple tree that was presented to the community by the Kier team and was selected as its fruit is a good food source for birds and other wildlife. The dead elm tree and other branches removed from the area were used to create a habitat pile to provide shelter for wildlife.
After being told that little owls were present in the area, it was decided that a nest box would be a good way to encourage breeding. Therefore, a box was also made by Kier employees from recycled wood and put up in a tree in a nearby orchard.
Following the work done by the group, members of the community gathered to bless the well, with a re dedication service performed by the vicar of St Catherine’s Church. The residents were so pleased with the outcome of the work that they have volunteered to keep the well and surrounding area clear and accessible for everyone.
This project is a great example of how listening to the needs of the local community can lead to both a human and environment benefit to a local community.