HEATON woods has been named England's top community woodland.

And members of Heaton Woods Trust whose hard work earned it the prestigious Royal Forestry Society title are now hoping their new gold-mark of excellence will help bring in more funding to keep up their good work.

The Trust relies on grants and donations to manage its 50 acres. One of the many ongoing projects that would benefit from more funding is a plan to widen its pathways to become more user-friendly for disabled people and people pushing prams.

Heaton Woods Trust chairman Richard Palfreman said: “We are delighted that our work has been recognised, and to be named the top community woodland in England is a real honour. Since winning the regional award in 2009 we have been opening up new grasslands and introducing more disabled paths to improve access for the whole community. We also excavated a memorial area where families can come and play and picnic.”

The excellence award will be presented at a special event at the Hay Barns, Upton, Oxfordshire, on July 9

Competition judges visited the Heaton site in May and a tribute from them said: “This superb area with its old woodland, recent plantations, meadows, ponds and great views is testament to the efforts of a group of local residents who have created a wonderful resource which is used and enjoyed by local schools, groups and individuals.”

Mr Palfreman said since the Trust, which now has more than 100 members, first started out and bought just eight acres of land - its work had grown and grown.

"We started off with nothing and now we have about 50 acres, all made possible from grants, fundings, donations and a lot of hard work and dedication.

"Winning this award means we get a gold standard logo to put on all out stationery and website - hopefully that will help us bring in more funding. We've got lots of work to do to make the woods even better and bring even more enjoyment and benefits to the community."

Anyone wanting to see for themselves just what has made Heaton Woods such a winner, can go along to an open day on Sunday, July 13 from 1pm onwards.