Wildlife and Wellbeing: How a Hillside Haven Brings Joy to Residents

Residents of Holgate find solace and joy in the vibrant wildlife of Severus Hill. A testament to the enduring connection between nature and mental wellbeing.

2/8/20242 min read

Local residents of Holgate find solace and joy in the vibrant wildlife that thrives on the hillside of Severus Hill. Among them is David Ryder, an 85-year-old local who has spent the majority of his life surrounded by the evolving landscape of the hill. David himself was instrumental is saving the hill from a housing development back in 2017 and remains resolute in its values and beauty.

Reflecting on his six decades of residency, David has witnessed the transformation of the land, from its humble beginnings as grasslands to its current state as a haven for diverse flora and fauna. "It wasn't like it looks now with cattle and sheep and it was no trees," recalls Ryder. "But also during that time, it was a freeway for anyone to get through from Acomb. This caused many problems form residents."

Over the years, the hill has transitioned into a thriving ecosystem, attracting an array of wildlife. David proudly spotted 22 different varieties of birds between May and October 2023 alone, showcasing the richness of biodiversity that has found a home there.

Read more about the wildlife on Severus Hill and their importance to our local ecosystem.

But it's not just the abundance of wildlife that brings joy to residents like David. It's the sense of connection to nature and the mental wellbeing it fosters. "It's something magical," says Ryder, reflecting on the natural evolution of the hill. "The birds and animals took over. We didn't plant it. They did it for their own good."

For elderly residents like David, the hill offers more than just scenic beauty. It provides a living calendar, marking the passage of time through the changing seasons and the comings and goings of various species. "You don't need a calendar when you live near the hill, you draw the curtains back and you can see what's happening."

Beyond its ecological significance, the hill also serves as a reminder of the community's resilience and activism. David recounts a time when the hill faced the threat of development, with plans to build 43 houses on its slopes. In response, he and a group of concerned residents rallied together, submitting nearly 280 objections to the council. Their efforts paid off, preserving the hill as a cherished green space for the next generations to ensure its safeguarding.

As a conservation and preservation group Friends of Severus Hill, of which David is one, remain hopeful for the future of the hill and its inhabitants. "We've got to be careful in allowing man and animals to mix, especially wild animals. We want to keep the wild side going."

In an ever-changing world, the hill stands as a testament to the enduring connection between humanity and the natural world, offering sanctuary and serenity to all who call it home. And for residents like David, it's a source of joy, wonder, and cherished memories that span a lifetime.

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Click below to find out more about our fundraising campaign to save Severus Hill and how a small donation will help us conserve the Wildlife, Environment, History and Heritage of Severus Hill.

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