Cumbrian dentist digs a wildlife pond for local initiative

29 June 2024

Bex Cooper, a dentist from Kendal, has spearheaded an initiative to create areas around her practice that will allow nature and wildlife to thrive. Her actions follow the launch of an annual wildlife appreciation campaign.

Founded in 2015, ‘30 Days Wild’, coordinated by the UK’s 46 Wildlife Trusts, encourages individuals, families, schools and organisations to look closer at nature and take daily actions to enjoy, appreciate and support it.

It's not the first place you'd expect to find a wildlife enthusiast, but Bex Cooper, director at Crossbank Dental Care in Kendal, is breaking the mould. Despite the busy nature of her dentistry clinic, she couldn’t resist the call of nature and wanted to contribute.

There was a spare handkerchief of land behind the practice’s admin building on Captain French Lane. To the astonishment of practice staff and patients, Bex has spent her spare moments swapping smart shoes for wellies, picking up a spade and digging a wildlife pond.

“It’s a small, ignored corner, certainly not enough room for a wildflower meadow!” Bex explained. “But after a little bit of research and asking for advice, when I learned how much benefit a pond could bring, I was out with my spade the next morning!”

Wildlife ponds provide many benefits for wildlife. They provide a home, shelter, and sustenance for aquatic and waterside plants, invertebrates, snails, pollinators, birds, and butterflies. Despite the UK’s damp climate, small mammals, bees, and birds often struggle to reach safe drinking water, so small ponds can be lifesavers.

Crossbank Dental Care has already undertaken initiatives to improve the practice's sustainability, including reducing clinic waste, switching to sustainable bamboo toilet rolls, low-energy lightbulbs, chlorine-free inks, recycled paper, and solar panels.

In autumn 2024, the practice plans to extend its support of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust with a sponsored tree planting scheme.

For dental practices wishing to participate, Bex suggested starting small. She said, “We’ve deliberately allowed native plants to grow in nooks and crannies around the clinic, and we love hearing passing families pointing out the flowers and visiting insects to their children, just as we do with ours.

“I’m hoping our little pond can provide enjoyment and inspiration for people, as well as a refuge for nature. Analysis of previous 30 Days Wild initiatives shows that increased connection with nature brings improved health, happiness and relationship benefits. A tiny change can have a big, positive impact, even letting a corner of the garden grow wild, fitting a window box, or rewilding that old washing-up bowl. Nature’s much more important and rewarding than the washing up, anyway!”