Graham swapped his seat in the House of Commons for an upturned log as he joined youngsters at a Cheshire Wildlife Trust ‘Nature Tots’ club at Marbury Country Park.
The weekly outdoor sessions are aimed at the under-fives, with toddlers getting the chance to explore the park’s woodlands and learn about nature in a safe and secure environment. The Nature Tots club is based on the innovative Scandinavian-inspired ‘Forest School’ concept, which the Cheshire Wildlife Trust is also rolling out for older children at other locations in the region.
Graham joined the Trust’s trained Forest School leaders Sasha and Robyn, as the young naturalists made their own ‘woodalions’, played hide and seek and went on a minibeast hunt for beetles and other bugs beneath the forest floor.
The sessions take place in a specially-designed area created by Marbury Country Park rangers, including a log circle for storytelling all made from trees felled just a few metres away as part of the park’s normal woodland management.
Recent research suggests that just one in five children today get a ‘meaningful’ regular connection with nature, compared to around three-quarters a generation ago.
Graham said: “As a father of three, I remember how important it is to cherish these first few years. It's a time when children are learning all about the world around them, so getting out into nature can really inspire young minds and create an important lifelong bond with their families.
“As our world becomes more technology-driven, it becomes more and more important to engage with the natural world around us. I hope more families become inspired to give their children a chance to explore the local environment in such a safe and engaging way.”