OPEN DAYS

Since WeSET was formed in 2009, we’ve welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to Westmill as part of school trips, group trips and our public on-site tour days. However, we also hold special event Open Days.

2021

Westmill was selected as a ‘virtual landing site’ for the Moths to a Flame project run by The Art and Energy Collective, on its journey to the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) 2021 in Glasgow. As a community energy partner, we welcomed people to a family event on Sunday 19th September 2021, organised by our Education Officer Emma Arnold, which featured Westmill site tours and demonstrations, plus a moth-making workshop, and other creative workshops linked to energy, sustainability and biodiversity.

With the help of online event management services, local publicity and our event banner, we ended up attracting a good number of attendees. It was wonderful to welcome families from as far afield as Croydon, Birmingham and Hampshire as well as local towns and villages. Even some dog walkers joined in! Our hopes for wind and sunshine were rewarded and the turbines rotated gracefully throughout. As people started to arrive, children (and adults!) quickly got stuck in and the moth-making and wildflower meadow seed bomb-making proved particularly popular. Everyone was very interested to learn more about the Moths to a Flame journey and excited that their moths would be part of the exhibit. Some of the younger children also did a bit of colouring and many sheets were taken home with the anticipation of bringing to life their virtual reality moths and sending whispers of hope.

Thanks go to two local Highworth cafes, Bloomfields Fine Food and TT Linnet, for washing out and collecting bags of their used milk bottles for us. The whole thing was a community effort! Emma had also been collecting egg boxes which made excellent carriers for seed bombs, and children enjoyed mixing the coco compost, bentonite clay and meadow seeds. If dried thoroughly and kept in a tin, these make lovely gifts and we made sure our ‘how-to sheets’ were available for people to take away with them.

The sunshine was very welcome: it made the cyanotype printing possible and many people had a go, gathering the slowly-drying wildflowers from around the turbines and panels, arranging them on the photosensitive paper, sandwiching them under an acrylic layer and exposing them to the sunlight. There were some beautiful arrangements; delicate grasses worked well, and after rinsing in water, the developed prints dried quickly in the wind. As one of the children pointed out, it’s a bit like seeing a photograph coming to life – a great opportunity since most of our photography these days is digital!

Screen printing was very popular however: not always easy to execute outside with both wind and sun to dry out inks, so we did a bit of experimentation with printing mediums and to our surprise the ink flowed well for most of the afternoon, allowing many people to have a go and print their own Westmill/Moths to a Flame canvas bag-for-life.

Several site tours ran throughout the afternoon offering an opportunity to find out more about renewables in particular: wind, solar and community energy. And we are hugely grateful for the support and experience of volunteer guide Ron Colyer and WeSET trustees Sarah James, Warren Hicks and Cecilia Olley whose knowledge brought the tours to life. It was great to have one of the turbines open so people could look inside as well as enjoying a view of the whole solar array from the mound at the far end of the solar park.

We had a wonderful day, endorsed by some lovely feedback that was left at the moth-making station: “Thank you for the fantastic activities. They were engaging and relevant for all ages. The entire family enjoyed Westmill Farm, every person was friendly, knowledgeable and courteous. A fab day!”

2018

On Saturday 16th June 2018, a very special event was held to celebrate 10 years of community owned wind power at Westmill.

Visitors were able to take a site tour and see inside a wind turbine. There was live music, hot food and hands-on fun, blacksmithing, kite-making, pedal antics, a bouncy castle and a treasure trail. Entry was free.

2017

WeSET’s Open Day and Sustainable Energy Fair in June 2017 attracted close to 1,000 visitors to Westmill. It was a relaxed and fun event where people were able to learn about the impact of climate change and what they can do personally to reduce their own carbon footprint. Live music was provided by Oxford band The Brickwork Lizards.

Visitors had the opportunity to look up and inside a wind turbine and walk among 20,000 solar panels. Attendees could also make and fly their own kite, forge a keyring with Tom the blacksmith, seek out the treasure in the treasure trail, listen to stories in the storytelling tent and enjoy ice-cream, real ale and delicious cake, lie under a massive turbine and watch it turning, buy honey made on the farm… and much more!

Anne Elliott-Day’s “reflections” on the day are well worth a read.