A community project will be given the King’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of its work and dedication to conserving nature.

Today (Tuesday, November 14) the Brill Village Community Herd Ltd will be awarded for protecting the nationally endangered grassland on Brill Common, in Brill Village, to the southeast of Bicester over the border in Buckinghamshire.

Oxford Mail: The Brill Village Community Herd Volunteers

Through grazing a small herd of native Dexter cattle on the common, the volunteers aim to protect and enhance the biodiversity in the area.

READ MORE: Brand new Victorian Christmas market coming to this town

In response to the national recognition, founding board member of the group Pat Stone said: “We are highly honoured and immensely proud to receive this prestigious award, which recognises not only our volunteers’ tireless efforts and unwavering commitment, but also the importance of preserving the natural heritage of Brill Common.

“The changes we’ve seen to the habitat and wildlife over the past decade have been incredible to witness and demonstrate how grazing in a considered way can help bring nature back.

“We hope this award inspires others to engage in similar conservation efforts and appreciate the value of our natural landscapes.”

The Dexters were chosen as the ‘cows for the job’ because of their size, hardiness and ability to graze rough terrain.

The conservation grazing has played a pivotal role in restoring the ecological balance of the common, enabling native flora and fauna such as orchids, birds-foot trefoil and ladies bedstraw, lizards and butterflies to return and flourish.

Ms Stone said: “The organisation’s success underscores the importance of community-led conservation efforts and demonstrates what can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared commitment.”

Representatives of the group will receive the award crystal and certificate from Countess Howe, Lord-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire.

Two volunteers from the organisation will also attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next summer, along with other recipients of the year’s award.

The community group is one of 262 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Brill is a hilltop village, where stone age, iron age and bronze age artefacts have been discovered.

It was occupied by the Romans and then the Saxons, and Edward the Confessor, the 11th century King, built a hunting lodge at the centre of what was then Bernwode Forest.

Its streets are now lined with houses and cottages built in the 18th century, many constructed from Brill brock made in the brickworks from the clay excavated from the common.

The community group lost a cow last year to a dog attack, who on veterinary advice had her life ended.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1