Three founding volunteers of the Northumberland National Park Sustainable Development Fund’s independent grants panel stepped down this week after a combined 30 years service to enterprises in and around the National Park.
Mervyn Anthony, John Goodfellow and John Hartshorne have supported some 250 business and community projects with funding and advice during their tenure on the SDF grants panel. Their role has been far more than simply determining whether an applicant should get a grant, but has also included contributing their considerable experience and wisdom to proposed plans and providing mentoring advice as the projects progressed.
Sustainable development is about ways of living and working that allow businesses to prosper and return the benefits of trade and employment to the local economy. It also helps communities to develop a rich, self-supporting and distinctive social life. The National Park’s SDF provides grants that will achieve these aims by supporting projects that enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of Northumberland National Park, providing opportunities for understanding and enjoying its special qualities. Grants from the National Park SDF have helped to alleviate the initial risk of innovation and get a project underway; they have supported renewable energy schemes, new business start-ups using local supplies, recycling materials, sustainable tourism, arts and culture and opportunities for young people.
Former National Park volunteer, Mervyn Anthony, said: “I’ve enjoyed my time as a member of the SDF grants panel and feel that the majority of the projects which we have looked at in the past 11 years have provided new impetus for innovation in the National Park and its surrounding areas. The drawdown of funding from other sources – matched funding, has been greater than 4:1 ratio and this demonstrates that the SDF Fund can provide good leverage for other funding. The variety of projects has been excellent and this has led to many new ideas being tried out and becoming successful which is what the fund is about. I wish the grants panel continuing success.”
His sentiments were echoed by Otterburn businessman, John Goodfellow, who stated: “Giving someone else’s money away is a novel experience for me, and I have always found the SDF grants panel meetings very satisfying. Then to watch and observe over time how the money is utilised by the small businesses is most rewarding. We who live in the countryside are all involved in the community and to see a business boosted by a grant is great. We also grant aided various village halls and those improvements will be here for a generation or more.”
John Hartshorne of Albion Outdoors educational fieldwork practice added: “A core principle of the Sustainable Development Fund has been that it is accessible to all with a minimum of paperwork. It supports innovative and sustainable projects which draw people into the National Park to fully appreciate what a wonderful resource it is.
I have been involved with SDF since its inception and have been impressed by the imagination and diversity of the projects we have reviewed. It has certainly broadened my perspective and our annual visits to see some of the projects we have funded has always been a wonderful inspiration.
The SDF remains an invaluable and accessible funding source for projects seeking to make a real impact in the National Park. Long may it continue!”
The Sustainable Development Fund continues to be open for new applications and the present grants panel are always on the look-out for new and innovative ideas.
Category: Northumberland National Park