​​​Widewater Lagoon Local Nature Reserve: Celebrating 25 years of ‘hidden’ Lancing treasure

​​Widewater Lagoon is one of Lancing’s hidden treasures, a beautiful stretch of water and wildlife along Lancing seafront, between Beach Green and Shoreham Beach.

A rich diversity of birds, including herons, swans, geese, cormorants, kingfishers and gulls, can be seen across the seasons and it is now more than 25 years since this area of brackish water landlocked by a man-made shingle bank was granted Local Nature Reserve status.

The lagoon is owned and managed by Lancing Parish Council with the support of World of Widewater, a community conservation group that shares a passion for the reserve. Members organised a 25th anniversary celebration on September 23, a glorious day when old friendships were renewed and new acquaintances forged.

Jo Procter, chair of World of Widewater committee, said: "The Widewater has a vibrant and dynamic population, with newcomers mingling easily with longer-standing residents. Few people who come to live here choose voluntarily to leave, locals simply fall in love with the place and stay. History is full of case studies of residents who leave but are eventually dragged back by the gravitational pull of the place.

"Sure, the almost ever-present breeze blew reliably from the west but the sun shone down generously on the proceedings and much fun was had by all. The Sundowners with their eclectic mix of easy listening and heavy metal ukulele sounds provided the musical backdrop to the event. The resident swans with their nine cygnets even dropped in for a bop at one point, though admittedly in the absence of any immediate food donations, they eventually meandered off."

Jo gave a talk about the local nature reserve and the work of WoW and the parish council in stewardship of the lagoon over the past 25 years and into the future. She explained that work is to help improve, protect and enhance this unique area as a habitat for rare and specialist species and to ensure a bright future for the lagoon.

Alongside World of Widewater, several other local community and conservation groups shared in the fun, including birding group SDOS (Shoreham District Ornithological Society), FSOB (Friends of Shoreham Beach) and the local U3A group.

Mike Richards, known as The Owl Man, attracted a lot of interest with his beautiful birds of prey. Thanks to Sussex Catering, there was food and drink, alongside bric a brac, a tombola and various visual displays showing the history and beauty of the lagoon and its birdlife. The treasure hunt was enthusiastically pursued by children on the banks of the lagoon – so enthusiastically, in fact, that a rerun was required later in the afternoon.

Jo added: "Above all, this was an opportunity for the community to get to know more about where they live and the people they live alongside."

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