A new willow maze for school children to explore has been officially opened by The East of England Agricultural Society at the Showground in Peterborough.
Designed and delivered in conjunction with PECT (Peterborough Environmental City Trust), volunteers from the Society’s Kids Country education programme, Caterpillar, and other local businesses worked on the maze for almost three-and-a-half years to make it ready for visitors.
Set in an acre of land in the Education Area of the Showground, the maze is 31.5 metres long and made up of 8,631 willow plants woven together to form the structure – which will grow up to nine feet tall when fully mature.
The Chairman of Kids Country, Paul Tate, said: “It’s fantastic to see children enjoying the maze after all the effort volunteers have put into this project.
“With help from the brilliant team at Nene Coppicing and the superb support of the Caterpillar Foundation and Caterpillar’s staff, we have created something to be proud of that contributes much to the Education Area. It provides children with an opportunity to engage with the countryside and to get fit, stay healthy, and have fun.
“Willow is a lively plant with a mind of its own, so it has taken a lot of work to get it to this stage. There’s a lot more to growing a willow maze than meets the eye!
“Thanks to the help of our volunteers we have helped the growing willow overcome the threat of weeds and the constant attacks from rabbits, and into a position where we could weave and coppice it to create the final lay-out.”
The maze was officially opened by Mr Tate alongside representatives from Peterborough-based Caterpillar, which produces Cat® and Perkins engines, Jon Crayston and Vanessa Relph, and top British athletes Heather Fell and Laura Sugar.
Mr Crayston, European Division Manager at Caterpillar, said: “The Willow Maze, part of the Peterborough Go Wild! Project sponsored by the Caterpillar Foundation, was initially planted in January 2014. Each year the team have been fortunate to go back to prune, weave and replant the trees.
“It gives us a great sense of pride each time we visit the site and to support the work that Kids Country are doing to educate children about food, farming and the countryside. We hope to continue to support the willow maze for many years to come.”