OLD and young united to welcome the official opening of a new nature reserve.

Epping Forest District Council has been working hard with Ongar Town Council and volunteers from Countrycare for over two years to create the new Cripsey Brook Nature Reserve as a place for wildlife and the public to enjoy.

In the run up to the opening ceremony, Epping Forest Arts has been working with children from Chipping Ongar Primary School, who visited the area to take pictures and took part in a creative writing session.

The children also visited older people in the town when they went to the sheltered housing complex Finch Court to hear the residents talk of their memories of the countryside.

Working with dance development artist Vicki Quirke, the children also learnt a routine which they performed at the opening ceremony.

Hundreds of people attended the grand opening of the nature reserve, which featured side shows including ferret racing, face-painting, and a demonstration of hedge laying.

A film about the Cripsey Brook project created by artist Sonja Zelic was projected on to trees, and district councillor Blane Judd spoke about the history of the area which had been cleared to create the nature reserve, in The Borough, Ongar.

Since 2008, overgrown brambles have been cleared, a new bridge and benches have been installed, and notice boards have been erected to tell people of the wildlife on offer at the nature reserve.

District council arts assistant Vanessa Gayton said: “We just wanted to raise awareness so people could know what they could find down there.

“The afternoon went brilliantly. The weather held, hundreds of people were there and there was a lovely atmosphere with a real community feel.”