Northumberland National Park has presented its first-ever awards to organisations and individuals supporting the authority’s goals and objectives.
The awards aim to recognise and reward the efforts of individuals, businesses and community groups who are helping the National Park Authority and its partners to achieve the aims in the National Park Management Plan. They were presented tonight at the National Park Forum, Rothbury, Northumberland.
Cllr Isabel Hunter, Executive Director for Infrastructure and Environment, Northumberland County Council, and John Riddle, Chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority, presented the awards.
Cllr Hunter said: “As one of the judges, I was very moved at the energy, determination and commitment to local communities and the environment that people in and around the National Park have shown and they certainly set a high benchmark for the county.”
The winners are:
1. A Welcoming Park Category
Bellingham District Trade & Tourism Association – For dedication, co-operation and creativity in making Bellingham a welcoming and vibrant tourism hub for the North Tyne valley, and for the establishment of the Bellingham Blast Cycling Event.
Special Mention: The Coach House Tea Rooms – Elsdon (Rita and Allan Colby) For establishing a tea room and gallery offering a high standard of local food and a wide range of pictures and crafts produced locally. As well as providing a warm, personal welcome the Coach House also puts on workshops and guided walks locally, often into the National Park.
2. A Distinctive Place Category
Winner: Hepple Whitefield Farm (John Robson & Family) For their very positive attitude to conservation and access and for making a significant contribution to the conservation, enhancement and understanding of the Simonside Hills Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and adjacent areas in the National Park.
Special Mention: Andy McNaught, Environmental Stewardship Project Officer, Natural England For working with NNPA officers to complete over 80 Stewardship Schemes in a pragmatic, imaginative and flexible way, which has helped to safeguard the special qualities of the National Park and provide vital income to the farms involved. The schemes are also an important source of work for local contractors who undertake capital works.
3. A Living-Working Landscape Category
Winner: Cheviot Farms Micro-hydro Pilot Group (Graham Dixon, Stuart & Sarah Nelson, The Singer Family, Neil & Poppy Hindmarsh, Simon Gray) – For initiative, cooperation and patience in undertaking a study to investigate the potential for five farms in the Cheviot Hills to utilise the power of the water in adjacent burns to generate electricity, then continuing the process through evaluations with various agencies to installation. Ultimately building a body of knowledge and experience that can assist all upland farms.
Special Mention: Kevin Wharf, Wildflower Seed Collector – For his genuine drive and interest in wanting to do something for wildflowers in the countryside. He uses his seed harvesting machine to collect local seeds from his own hay meadows and makes them available for farms entering into HLS agreements. He provides free seed for `mini-meadow` projects at local schools and other small community schemes, and has been collecting Heather seed for upland moorland restoration schemes.
Special Mention: Ingram Village Hall Committee – For the passion of this small and remote community in finding the funds and recommissioning an aged village hall as a sustainable and green public building for future generations. It now has a new sub-structure, full insulation to the floor and walls, and a renewed and strengthened roof to support photovoltaic (PV) panels and an air source heat pump. The hall also doubles as bunkhouse accommodation for educational groups.
4. Thriving Communities Category
Winner: Humshaugh Community Shop – The villages of Humshaugh and Wall for coming together to protect the final shop in their community from closing. Local people formed a committee to purchase the lease and have taken on the day to day management of the shop. Many of them have also volunteered to work in the shop and they are stocking local produce. The shop is now making a small profit which the committee is re-investing in the local community through its own small grants process
Special Mention: Bellingham District Trade & Tourism Association.
5. The Curlew Award for an exceptional contribution
Winner: Trevor & Dorothy Hardy, voluntary rangers – Trevor and Dorothy Hardy joined the Northumberland National Park Voluntary Ranger Service in the Spring of 1960, the year of its inception and have provided an outstanding service for 51 years. They have been involved in a wide area of voluntary activity from practical conservation tasks to engaging with visitors and local people.
However, their greatest contribution has been in using their detailed knowledge of the National Park alongside their skills in ecological sciences to collect data on flora and fauna of the National Park. Now, in their late 80s, they are hanging up their boots and notebooks, but to have continued volunteering in the wild rugged landscape of the park, giving their time and expertise with the same energy and enthusiasm.
Special Mention: Glendale Children’s Day (Glendale Agricultural Society) – For creating and running a unique event over five years which has taught and inspired over 8,000 first school pupils from Northumberland, and some from Tyneside, about every aspect rural life, food production and the importance of conserving the countryside. The Children’s Countryside Day is run on a voluntary basis and relies on hundreds of volunteers from farms, other businesses and the local community year after year.
Special Mention: Bellingham Heritage Centre Volunteer Team – For the determination and commitment to improve understanding and enjoyment and make accessible the rural, industrial and cultural heritage of the people of the Tyne Valley for the community, visitors and genealogists, and to provide a centre for community cultural events.
Winners received a natural trophy made by the Redesdale craft workshop, Slate and Nature, a certificate and a cheque for £200 for a community fund of their choice.
Cllr Hunter said: “With so many exceptional nominations, it was hard to decide on the winners, but those who walk away with community fund cheques and certificates today can be justly proud of their efforts in the knowledge that they have contributed to greater good.”
Mr Riddle added: “It has made me very proud to see the enthusiasm with which individuals and businesses have embraced the aims and values of the National Park. They are great ambassadors for the future of our countryside and the Authority and I congratulate and thank the winners and all the nominees for their generous commitment of time and innovation.”
Note: pictures from the awards event in Rothbury will be added tomorrow.