John Partridge

Skills on Show is a two day event, open to the public, which has been held at County Hall for the past few years. It attracted about thirteen thousand visitors last year. It includes a Discovering Worcestershire marquee, and seeing this last year gave me the idea of a WBRC stand, designed to raise the profile of the WBRC in the county.

After overcoming what seemed to be a large number of obstacles, we eventually managed to get ourselves on the list, mainly due to the help of Alex Preston, the county BAP Officer, and I was persuaded that it would be far better to have an interactive stand rather than just the static display that I had been considering.

We ended up with a patch of 3m x 4m. The background contained posters of what we are trying to do, together with a Worcestershire map, laminated pictures of invertebrates and mammals, and a plug for Worcestershire Record.

On the tables we had two computers - one with GIS which gave a list of butterflies found round any chosen point, the other with aerial photographs of the county, on which I could superimpose the mammal records. This was used as a recruiting aid to get more people helping send in records for the proposed Mammal Atlas. Next to these was a stereo microscope, showing people mosses and lichens, and then a quiz on twig and leaf recognition, with a bran tub of prizes for the children who had a go.

On the second table John Meiklejohn had a display of ladybirds, stag beetles and moths, together with distribution maps, and behind that Will Watson had kindly provided some water bugs for a tank loaned by the Countryside Section of WCC.

The stand was busy for most of the time, with up to five helpers engaged in conversations, old friends were met, and we made ourselves known to many people. Joy had fun with the quiz, watching the reactions when children were told that their parents could help them, Harry found a seven-year old map-reader, John collected some likely-sounding sightings of Stag Beetles, and met an amazing young lady who could recall and draw a shield-bug that she had found, and I some badger records. We recruited a decent number of people to help with the mammal survey, and hopefully a few more readers for the Worcestershire Record.

My grateful thanks to Alex Preston, for ideas and liaison work, to Kate Westlake of the Countryside Service for her on-site organisation, and for pushing the interactive idea, and to the recorders who helped set-up, take down and staff the stand - Geoff Trevis, John Meiklejohn, Shaun Micklewright, Harry Green, Will Watson & Joy Ricketts - in order of appearance on stage. Amazingly, they all seemed to enjoy it and want to get involved again. For any that would like to join them, we are hoping that we can be involved again, and next year the dates are 12th & 13th July, 2003. I am also considering doing something similar on Tiddesley Wood Open Day.