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1998 Saw the acquisition of 3.5 acres of unimproved grassland by Herts. and Middx. Branch of Butterfly Conservation between Wilstone and Long Marston.

The land was up for sale; land which had been variously used for The Boy Scouts and for the grazing of horses and never used as farmland as far as was known.  A haven for local villagers, Millhoppers had been enjoyed by young and old for many many years. It came to the notice of members of Butterfly Conservation and was recognised as a wild life site by Dacorum Borough Council.

After a lot of research  and a great deal of consideration, the Branch applied for funding from Dacorum towards the cost of buying the land, with an additional contribution from  Herts. and Middx. Branch. The National Organisation  approved of the sale and the deal was done.

The artist and writer, Gordon Benningfield,  as a local branch member happily agreed to perform the opening ceremony in June 1998, but sadly died weeks before.

We dedicated the reserve to his name, and had the huge privilege of his wife and daughters coming in his place, to perform the task that he was so keen to do himself.

The reserve is still a very special place and hopefully will remain so for many years to come. We have over 21 species of butterflies that regularly breed on the reserve and between the months of April and September a weekly count is done, with records now going back since the day the reserve was opened.

 Margaret Noakes   

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