Star comment: Importance of the great outdoors

Lockdown made us appreciate the outdoors. Those lucky enough to be able to walk from our home to green fields found comfort in walks and a new-found awareness of nature. Arley Arboretum, which is celebrating 20 years of being open to the public, is just one jewel in our region.

Enjoying the fountains at Arley Arboretum
Enjoying the fountains at Arley Arboretum

The West Midlands may be considered an urban metropolis, but it has many areas of oasis within it. And it is also lucky to have within its wider boundaries the absolute beauty of rural Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire.

At a time when housing needs are acute. we are ever-more aware of the need to protect our green belt. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street is on a mission to utilise brown field former industrial sites.

He is absolutely right at pointing out the absurdity of building on our precious green fields when swathes of land lie derelict within our towns and cities. Areas like the Seven Cornfields between Wolverhampton and Sedgley are under huge pressure and popular market towns like Shifnal and Bridgnorth are sought after for new housing.

Arley Arboretum is an example of the importance of finding beauty in nature. Green belt, once lost, will never be regained, so it is absolutely essential that all brownfield sires are explored and developed.

It is heartening to see politicians in touch with the public mood who are doing the right thing to make good on local priorities. Us Midlanders are rightly proud of our public open spaces, they are the green heart of our industrial area. They are good for our physical health and our mental health and must be maintained for the present generation and for the future.

Every day of the week, remarkable achievements are completed, usually without fuss or fanfare. We are lucky enough to feature some of the more heart-warming stories of individuals overcoming difficulty to complete a challenge.

Macey Hand is a young lady with a huge zest for life and a drive to raise money for a good cause.

Having completed a tandem paraglide, she will take on the Claverley Bells 5K at the weekend.

It is impressive, but all the more so because she uses a prosthetic blade after having part of her right foot amputated when she was born fibula hemimelia, a congenital absence of the fibula. Macey, like many other determined young people, is an inspiration to us all. And she is a reminder that, despite some of the bad things we have to report, good deeds in general far outweigh the bad.

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