Applications Open for Summer School 2022

posted on June 20, 2022

The V&A and Sylva Foundation are hosting a summer school and inviting creative practitioners to take part. The Field Notes project will provide a unique opportunity for those with an interest in wood as a material, and in forests and woodlands as a place for learning and growing.


Summer School 2022

For Sylva Foundation, the collaboration is an extension to its ongoing support of a Summer School. Head of the Sylva Wood School, Joseph Bray, commented:

“We are excited to be collaborating with the V&A this year, especially because of the amazing opportunity it will provide to the creative participants in having their work displayed at the museum. The Field Notes project will help meet some of our core aims at the Wood School in creating inspiring experiences and opportunities for young people to experience making with home-grown timber.”

For the V&A, the collaboration supports the second iteration of Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures programme. Curator of Twentieth Century and Contemporary Furniture and Product Design at the V&A, Johanna Agerman Ross, said:

“We are delighted to continue the 10-year Make Good programme with this summer school in collaboration with Sylva Foundation. It will be exciting to see what this summer school will bring in terms of interrogating the use of wood and natural materials in design and how the participants will reflect in the themes and questions we have proposed as a starting point.”

The outcome of the Project will be an object or series of objects made from underutilised homegrown timber and other natural materials, sourced locally on the Sylva Wood Centre site. These will be contextualised with reflections on the summer-school learning process in the form of imagery, spoken or written word, film or performance.

Sylva Summer School

Sylva Summer School

The Field Notes summer school is open to anyone over the age of 18 with an interest in making. As the Wood School at Sylva Foundation is equipped with industry- standard wood working tools this is a great environment for people to further develop professional making skills. Some prior experience of using wood working tools being would be a benefit to participants. There are eight places available for makers wishing to explore making in wood. This is an opportunity suitable for students, recent graduates, or early-career practitioners.

There are a further four places for embedded observers, to learn from and capture the programme in some format other than making in wood, for example through writing, sketching, podcast making, film making, or photography. This is an opportunity suitable for students, recent graduates, or early-career practitioners. Mentors will be available to all participants, to help realise the different projects.

Field Notes

Field Notes

All applications will be treated equally, regardless of age, disability, gender identity or gender expression, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or any other equality characteristic. We encourage applications from disabled people and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, and from people who identify as queer or female as these groups are currently under-represented in the fields of forestry, design and making in wood.

For an overview of the Field Notes summer school, please read the full call-out here.

An application form is available below. If you have any difficulties viewing the application form, you can also access the form here.

DEADLINE 11th JULY 2022.



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Hand-crafted stools made in collaboration with the National Trust

posted on July 6, 2022

Sylva Foundation has teamed up with the National Trust to turn trees lost to Ash dieback into a range of hand-crafted stools.

The ash stools made at the Sylva Wood School in collaboration with the National Trust

The ash stools made at the Sylva Wood School in collaboration with the National Trust ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Ash dieback is a widespread fungal disease that has had a dramatic impact on the UK’s native ash. It causes trees to slowly die and drop limbs, and those trees which pose a risk to the public have to be felled. Wood from this process has been turned into a collection of bespoke stools in three different designs, each made from ash trees from the National Trust’s Ebworth Estate in Gloucestershire. The Ebworth Estate was given to the National Trust, by John Workman, who was considered as one of the most influential foresters of his generation. Part of the estate is dedicated to the education, learning, and development of rural skills and works in partnership with other organisations; such as Sylva Foundation.

For the furniture making students of Sylva Foundation’s Wood School, working on this commission from the National Trust, allowed them to gain real business experience, as the stools will be sold via the National Trust’s online shop. The donation of the Grown in Britain certified timber from the National Trust also provided Sylva Foundation with materials that otherwise would have to be purchased. This ensures that the course is as cost efficient as possible, along with bursaries offered to students by the foundation.

National Trust Head of Trees and Woodland, John Deakin commented on the collaboration:

“I’m so pleased we’ve been able to work with Sylva Foundation and turn the sad loss of our trees into something so positive. This is a great example of how we can manage our woodlands in a positive way, if and when the worst happens. Ash dieback is one of the biggest threats to our native woodlands in the UK with ash making up nearly 40% of composition.

“As a conservation charity, we are so reliant on the skills of experts, some of whom are incredibly rare in their field, so by helping Sylva Foundation – both in terms of materials and business training – we are contributing to the future of skilled craftspeople.

“I hope that we can work with the foundation in future years and continue to offer these development opportunities, as well as find practical uses for the resources we have in abundance.”

Sylva Foundation CEO, Dr Gabriel Hemery, said

“The collaboration with the National Trust has been a wonderful opportunity for the charity and a brilliant live project for students at the Sylva Wood School. Our students have learnt a huge amount about working with ash, and how to design and batch-produce quality products to meet with a commercial deadline.

“The outcomes will help us promote the multiple benefits that result from using more home-grown timber from well-managed forests. After all, whatever the motive for felling (sadly in this case due to disease), home-grown timber is good for nature, good for the economy, and good for the planet.”

The stools are now available exclusively through the National Trust online shop.

All images ©National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Notes for Editors:

About the Ebworth Estate

The Ebworth Estate was given to the National Trust, by John Workman, who was a National Trust forestry advisor for 30 years, co-founder of the Tree Council and co-founder of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, as well as ex-president of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).

About the National Trust

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive. Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust cares for more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves.

About Sylva Foundation

Sylva Foundation is an environmental and forestry charity working for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it. We envisage a wood culture where people understand and promote the good stewardship of woodlands and are mindful of their utility, while being conscious of their fragility. We use our forestry knowledge and information technology skills, supported by state-of-art evidence, to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society. Sylva’s myForest platform supports landowners and managers responsible for more than 155,000ha of forests across Britain. At our home in south Oxfordshire, we host the Sylva Wood School and a centre supporting small businesses who make with home-grown timber.

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Call for urgent action to adapt forests to climate change

posted on June 30, 2022

Forestry, conservation and government organisations have come together to reaffirm their commitment to work together to promote the importance of adapting trees, woods and forests to climate change.

The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership


The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership (FCCP) has published the Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation Accord which sets out a collective vision that Britain’s trees woods and forests are resilient to climate change and therefore able to meet their full potential to provide environmental, social and economic benefits.

Climate change and the associated environmental impacts including drought, flooding, fire, pests and pathogens present serious threats to the health of our trees woods and forests. There is an urgent need to improve the resilience of both newly created and existing woodland to climate change. This requires significant change to widely accepted and practised systems of woodland and land management. Greater awareness is needed for the importance of adopting a broader range of species, diversity of genetics, age and stand structure, and improved connectivity in the landscape.

The FCCP is working to communicate the case for adaptation, to provide training and education, inform research priorities and contribute to policy development.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive of the Sylva Foundation and Chair of the FCCP, said:

The recently renamed Forestry and Climate Change Partnership represents an unusual level of collaboration and a powerful agreement to work together to make change happen, fast. Our trees, woods and forests are faced with unprecedented rates of climate change and increased environmental threats such as pests and pathogens. Only by working together, and with the support of individual woodland owners and professionals, will we be able to rise to meet these challenges, with an ambition to bounce back better.

The Accord is available on the new FCCP website at Organisations are invited to show their support for the Accord by signing up online.


Notes for editors:

The Forestry and Climate Change Partnership (FCCP) is a cross sector unincorporated body which promotes measures which enhance the adaptation of trees, woods and forests to climate change and associated impacts. Members of the FCCP are:




Forestry Commission England

Forest Research

Forestry England

Future Trees Trust

Institute of Chartered Foresters

National Trust

Natural England

Royal Forestry Society


Small Woods Association

Sylva Foundation


The Tree Council

The Woodland Trust

Woodland Heritage

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Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products

posted on June 27, 2022

Sylva Foundation’s views on sourcing and using home-grown wood products.

Using more wood products sourced from UK forests will stimulate our economy while improving the environmental condition of more woodlands, reducing wood-miles (carbon footprint of importing timber), and help reconnect people with the benefits of a working countryside.

Sylva Foundation has set out its views on sourcing and home-grown wood products, and articulated how these link to its charitable purpose in a new position statement: Sourcing and Using Home-Grown Wood Products. The position statement also sets out a number of actions which it commits to following and will advocate to others. The position statement can be downloaded here.


Home-Grown Wood Procurement - decision tree

Home-Grown Wood Procurement – decision tree


  • Sylva Foundation’s vision is for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it.
  • Much of the UK’s wildlife has adapted to thrive in managed forests.
  • Currently there is low awareness of the provenance of wood products among users and consumers, and therefore a lack of awareness of the resulting consequences for the environment and economy.
  • There is a perception among UK users of wood products that supply is limited and/or that quality is poor.

Our Actions

Sylva Foundation position statement on sourcing and using home-grown wood products

download the position statement

Sylva Foundation will:

  1. advocate a hierarchal approach, placing a preference for home-grown wood products above some certified wood products.
  2. develop and make freely available a decision support tool to aid good environmental and ethical decision making by users of wood products (see below).
  3. be proactive in supporting the mission and activities of Grown in Britain.
  4. explore how best to improve the UK woodchain.

Home-grown Wood Product Selector tool

Sylva Foundation has developed a beta version of a Home-Grown Wood Product Selector decision support tool. This tool is provided free to use and aims to guide wood product users in decision making for sourcing timber and wood products in the UK. Sylva Foundation aims to develop this tool further with support from partners, and if investment can be attracted, develop a simple mobile application to improve accessibility and user experience.

home-grown wood product selector tool

home-grown wood product selector tool



The area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.2M hectares (13%); meaning that it is the second least-wooded country in Europe. A significant proportion of woodland area (44%) has been certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme. However, a similar area of woodland (e.g. 42% in England) is without a management plan compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Such non-compliant UKFS woodlands may be failing to deliver benefits to society, the environment, and to the UK economy.

The UK is the second largest importer of timber of any country in the world (second only to China), including 7.2M m3 of sawnwood and 5.3M tonnes of pulp and paper, amounting to £7.5 billion worth of imports . From its own forests, the UK produces 3.3M m3 of sawnwood, 3.0M m3 of wood-based panels, and 3.6M m3 of paper product.

It may seem obvious that a country with low woodland cover may be reliant on timber imports for much of its needs, however the current low level of woodland management in the UK is a real concern. Not only does a reliance on wood product imports leads to significant carbon footprint due to transportation (‘wood-miles’), but the under-performance of the UK timber market means that woodland owners may remain unmotivated to improve the condition of their woodlands, or even to invest in creating new woodland. Good woodland management (as measured against the UKFS) is closely linked not only to the economy, but also to the environmental condition of our woodlands.

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Innovative support launched for existing and new woods across England

posted on May 30, 2022

An innovative new project known as PIES, standing for protect, improve, expand, and sustain, has been launched to help with the creation and management of woodlands across England.

PIES project

PIES project

PIES project. Image (c)GabrielHemery

The project is funded by the Trees Call to Action Fund. The fund was developed by Defra in partnership with the Forestry Commission and is being administered by the Heritage Fund.

The PIES project will be delivered by a partnership between three organisations: Sylva Foundation, Forestry Canopy Foundation, and Grown in Britain.

The project team is also working closely with the Forestry Commission and the NFU to support engagement, provide advice, and deliver long-term plans to foster and expand resilient woodlands over the next three years. The PIES project is providing a network of independent forestry agents to deliver high-quality and standardised advice to landowners across England, supporting them in planning to comply with the UK Forestry Standard, achieving Grown in Britain certification, and improving access to the Woodland Carbon Code. Landowners taking part in the project will receive subsidised support, including one-to-one advice with ongoing online support and technical services.

The invitation to landowners to take part is expected to be ready from July, meanwhile more information about the project and an expression of interest form is available on the project webpage.

The PIES team combines the strategic work and information technology provided by Sylva Foundation, the network of independent forestry managers supported by the Forest Canopy Foundation, and the work of Grown in Britain in supporting the green economy. Together, the partnership will provide a joined-up approach, supporting landowners in meeting the objectives of the government’s England Trees Action Plan. As all three organisations are not-for-profit, and focussed on delivery of sustainable forest management for public good, therefore the partnership will have a long-term view and ongoing positive impact for the sector.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, CEO of Sylva Foundation, commented:

We are delighted to be working with our partners to deliver this innovative approach to supporting landowners across England. The PIES project will help meet many of the key elements of the England Trees Action Plan, including expanding and connecting woodlands, promoting the green economy, and protecting and improving existing woodlands.

Mr Justin Mumford, Director of Forestry Canopy Foundation, said:

This project will revolutionise the way that we are able to engage with landowners and will open up the critical dialogue needed to address key government targets on bringing woodland back into management and increasing woodland cover. These key natural capital assets can only be enhanced when we have strong collaboration between private landowners and government agencies, and this project will allow for that to happen.

Mr Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain, added:

There have never been so many opportunities for land owners and managers to provide nature-based solutions for the economy, planet and people. We are excited to be part of this project that will build and sustain vital connections between different parts of the supply chain, for timber, carbon, and the array of benefits that woodlands can provide.


For Editors

Sylva Foundation is an environmental charity focussing on trees and woodland. It uses its forestry knowledge and information technology skills to provide innovative solutions to some of the greatest environmental challenges facing modern society. Its platform myForest helps more than 9,000 woodland owners and managers care for 160,000ha across Britain. It also provides an environmental matchmaking platform NatureBid which has supported the £24M of funding in the last three years. From its base in south Oxfordshire the charity runs a Wood Centre and Wood School supporting training and the use of home-grown timber.

Forest Canopy Foundation is a not-for-profit partnership of professionals from across the forestry industry who have come together to play their part in mitigating climatic change and reviving biodiversity in the UK. The FCF now manages an innovative scheme combining public and private finance to make it more feasible for landowners to plant trees and is also supporting the industry through an ongoing research and development programme. The FCF has has a national network of 11 Expert Providers (EPs) operating under the Foundation’s umbrella. Each EP is certified by FCF’s independent auditor Grown in Britain. Each EP can support landowners with various forms of tree planting, including woodland creation, agroforestry, and hedgerows by providing expert advice and practical support on funding streams available, establishment and long-term management.

Grown in Britain is a not-for-profit, independent certification body supporting UK forestry and global plant health. GiB works to create a sustainable future for forests and forest products, to increase canopy cover in the UK and to protect our natural habitats from the threat of pests and diseases. Their vision is to put trees and plants at the heart of a healthier, more biodiverse, resilient and prosperous UK economy.


Trees Call to Action

Trees Call to Action

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Wood School Assistant Appointed

posted on May 26, 2022

We are delighted to welcome Phillip Gullam as our new Wood School Assistant.

Phillip Gullam - Wood School Assistant

Phillip Gullam – Wood School Assistant

Phil previously taught at Rycotewood for a number of years, teaching various furniture-making courses. He brings to the role a breadth of experience gained over the years.  Phil has been involved in the teaching and assessing qualifications for wood occupations for more than 15 years. Most recently this was as the nationwide quality assurer of furniture qualifications and as an assessor of furniture-making apprenticeships. Prior to this, he was a workshop manager for several high-profile furniture/kitchen makers, and has successfully run his own workshop.

Commenting on his appointment, Phil said:

‘I am excited by the opportunity to work with Sylva’s students and help develop their furniture making skills and knowledge, using homegrown timbers, and to be involved in Sylva Foundation’s wider projects.’

Read more about the Sylva Wood School

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Open Day 2022

posted on April 26, 2022
Artweeks 2022

Artweeks 2022 at the Sylva Wood Centre

We are delighted to open the Sylva Wood Centre to visitors once more during Oxfordshire Artweeks.

We are open for 14/15 May from 10am-5pm.

Come and see the craftspeople at work in our Wood Centre and learn about their businesses; visit the Wood School to find out about our courses and see our students’ projects. There is also the opportunity to join the Trees, Timber and Teas event (link) and see the living history society, Wulfheodenas in action at our reconstructed Anglo-Saxon House of Wessex.

Free parking and Free entry to all venues.

Special event: Trees, timber and tea: woodland walk and tea tasting

Join us for a multi-sensory look at some ways that trees make our life richer and how we can support this extraordinary life-form.
Tickets £24. Booking essential


Find us on the Oxfordshire Artweeks website

COVID-19: we will be following government advice to ensure the safety of visitors – many of our spaces are large and well-ventilated. Handwashing and sterilising stations will be provided.


Artweeks 2022 map

Artweeks 2022 map

Artweeks 2022

Artweeks 2022 at the Sylva Wood Centre

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Martin Wood – engineer, philanthropist, and conservationist

posted on November 24, 2021

A joint statement by sister charities: Earth Trust, The Oxford Trust, and Sylva Foundation

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Martin Wood (1927-2021).

Sir Martin Wood FRS in 2012

Sir Martin Wood FRS in 2012

Sir Martin and Lady Wood together founded our three sister charities. Each of us has a distinctive vocation, voice and vision, yet at our heart we inherited our founders’ generosity of spirit and innovative approach to getting things done for science, people and nature.

As a visionary engineer, Martin started Oxford Instruments with Audrey, developing and marketing the world’s first superconducting magnets. These were soon in great demand for scientific equipment, notably in the development of MRI scanning technology. As the business flourished, ultimately floating on the stock market, Martin and Audrey became prolific philanthropists, supporting business start-ups, scientific innovation, young people and the natural environment.

Martin and Audrey co-founded Earth Trust in 1982 (previously known as Northmoor Trust for Countryside Conservation) after years of appreciating the challenges faced by nature and the environment. From its earliest pioneering beginnings it has grown to be an advocate and demonstration of people connecting with the natural world. Earth Trust’s wildlife-rich green spaces include the iconic Wittenham Clumps and 500ha of farmland, woodland and wetlands, welcoming 200,000 visits each year. Its passion for quality and accessible green spaces is shared with and through events and engagement activities, award-winning volunteers and a thriving young people’s environmental education project.

Chief Executive of Earth Trust, Jayne Manley, commented:

“Martin’s love of the environment, his appreciation of the benefits of being close to nature and his desire to make it better for everyone have shaped Earth Trust into what it is today. Just as he pioneered in science, he wanted to support innovation in thought and action. Alongside this he understood that Earth Trust was a ‘start-up’ charity, bringing with it similar challenges to those faced by small businesses. He was much loved by staff, volunteers and visitors and will be missed enormously by all.”

In 1985, Martin and Audrey co-founded The Oxford Trust, creating Oxfordshire’s first innovation centre for science and technology start-ups. Hand-in-hand with business incubation, the trust has always supported young people and encouraged students to consider pursuing careers in STEM. The Oxford Trust owns the Oxford Centre for Innovation and opened the new the Wood Centre for Innovation in 2019. Together these centres help dozens of young tech companies get a head start. Though its Science Oxford programmes it reaches over 20,000 students, 600 teachers and hundreds of families across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire annually.

Chief Executive of The Oxford Trust, Steve Burgess, said:

“Martin’s passion for innovation and physics cannot be understated. Not only through his direct work on superconducting magnets which, via MRI scanners alone, effects millions of lives every year, but also supporting early-stage technology companies at a time when no one else had the vision to do this. With Audrey always at his side the duo has made an incredible impact on today’s entrepreneurial landscape and in science education. His legacy will be carried forward by The Oxford Trust.”

Sylva Foundation was co-founded by Martin with Dr Gabriel Hemery in 2009 aiming to nurture Britain’s wood culture. Its origins stem from a collaboration between the two while working closely together for 13 years to create a forestry science programme at the Northmoor Trust. Sylva Foundation combines many of the qualities of its sister charities, with a passion for the environment, business, and education. It has brought technical innovation to the forestry sector, where its online platforms are supporting 9,000 landowners and managers in caring for 140,000ha across Britain. When Martin and Audrey donated land and buildings at Long Wittenham to the charity, this led to the creation of the Wood Centre. The foundation supports 25 woodworking business and delivers an education programme supporting employability and promoting the use of home-grown timber.

Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, Gabriel Hemery, commented:

“Martin’s friendship and leadership transformed my life, professionally and personally, and consequently the lives of the entire Sylva team, the thousands of people we work with, and the tens of thousands of hectares of woodland we help care for across Britain. On my office wall hangs a framed note from Martin that I found waiting on my desk on the first day we started working on the idea of founding a new charity: ‘Greetings, a great day – we’re going to change the face of forestry in the British Isles!’ In a few words, this perfectly captures Martin’s unparalleled vision, philanthropy, and humanity.”

Our thoughts and love are with Martin’s widow, Audrey, and the Wood family.

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Free Advice for Woodland Owners

posted on November 23, 2021

If you own an area of woodland in the south-east region of England, you could benefit from free one-to-one professional forestry advice.

woodland advice

woodland advice

Landowners are increasingly aware of the threats from climate change, pests and diseases, but are also aware of opportunities to provide services from woodlands they manage, such as carbon sequestration and water management. In future, grant payments or other types of support are likely to be available only to those with an approved woodland management plan.

Thanks to innovation funding provided by the Forestry Commission, the environmental and forestry charity Sylva Foundation is collaborating with a group of forestry agents in the Forestry Canopy Foundation to offer free support to 50 landowners across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, East Sussex, and West Sussex. To be eligible, the woodland site (0.5ha or larger) must be without a management plan that is compliant with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS).

  • You will receive support in completing a self-assessment of the current state of management in the woodland.
  • You will receive a free consultation with a professional forestry agent to help you meet your objectives.
  • The consultation will set you on a path to completing a UKFS-compliant woodland management plan.

Landowners interested in this generous advice package are encouraged to express their interest without delay, using this online form. To discuss this offer please contact George Dennison at or 07972 216529.

The application window is open until end of February 2022, but will close when all 50 places have been allotted.

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The new Sylva Friends scheme

posted on November 17, 2021

We are very excited to launch the new Sylva Friends scheme.

Sylva Friends

Join the Sylva Friends

The Sylva Friends scheme is for anyone who shares our vision for a society that cares for nature while living in harmony with it. We hope you may be interested in becoming a Sylva Friend because you love what we do and how we do it.

By joining the Sylva Friends, you will genuinely become a friend of our dynamic small charity. Your collaborative support will help us make a meaningful difference in this world. Together, we will nurture a stronger wood culture, and grow an even better future.

We will spend your money on delivering our charitable mission, not on cheap giveaways or expensive membership magazines. That doesn’t mean you’ll never receive nothing in return! Sylva Friends will receive a regular enews offering unique insights into our work, a discount on items in our shop, early-bird opportunities to events, and more.

We offer Friends membership options for individuals, families, and corporates. You can choose whether to pay monthly, annually, or even to become a lifetime Sylva Friend. You can even gift a Friends membership to someone special as an unusual, but meaningful gift.

Visit our new Friends page to find out more. We hope we can welcome you soon!

Sylva Friends

Read more about the Sylva Friends scheme

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