Fell Futures presented with Park Protector Award at parliamentary reception in Westminster

  • Contributor information: CNP

Our Park Protector Award winners Fell Futures have been presented with a cheque for £2,000 by our sponsors, the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, at a parliamentary reception in Westminster this week.
The money will buy 30 sets of personal equipment for Fell Futures volunteers, including waterproofs, trousers, tops and boots, enabling them to go out in all weathers, develop their skills and assist in the essential work that the Lake District National Park Authority undertakes.
The Fell Futures project defeated 14 other nominations from ten National Parks to clinch our prestigious award, which recognises, rewards and celebrates exceptional projects or individuals that have made a lasting contribution to the protection, restoration or conservation of the National Parks in England and Wales.
The project has been addressing a nationally identified skills shortage in the Lakes. It has helped train 12 apprentices and 30 new volunteers in skills such as dry-stone walling, habitat conservation, forestry, lime mortaring and upland stone pitching.
Presenting the award, Annette Cotter, Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust Trustee and Ramblers Worldwide Holidays Chair, said she was delighted that Fell Futures were providing opportunities for local people and attracting talented young people to learn traditional skills in an area of limited employment opportunities.
Ms Cotter said she had recently seen the excellent work being carried out in the Lake District by young people; “I was in the Lake District last week and saw at first hand the work going on in the fells, which is absolutely brilliant.”
Fell Futures has a 100 per cent track record of getting apprentices into employment with 80% working in Cumbria. The initiative has seen 5,350 days committed by apprentices, volunteers and members of the public, delivering practical heritage projects valued at £260,000.
Anne Robinson, Campaign for National Parks Chair, said she had been hugely impressed with the project and the way the apprentices have been able to work with a range of partnership organisations including the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, National Trust and Newton Rigg College.
“This project has been generating some excellent results and it is fantastic to see the apprentices coming through and making a real difference to the landscape of the fells.”
She thanked the Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust for their ongoing sponsorship of the Award and highlighted the support given by the Park Protector Club, Western Power Distribution and judges, who gave their time for free.
Ms Robinson spoke of the challenges and opportunities facing National Parks, highlighting the ongoing campaign against the proposals for the world’s largest potash mine in the North York Moors and the draconian cuts facing National Park Authorities, who have seen their budgets cut by 40 per cent over the past five years.
She said there were good news stories too, and she welcomed National Grid’s recent announcement of taking away pylons from three stretches of National Parks in Snowdonia, the Peak District and New Forest to enhance landscapes. And she also highlighted the excellent work being undertaken by the Mosaic England project, in developing young people’s personal skills. “We need to build on that and catalyse public opinion to show the vital importance of National Parks.”
Matthew Eaves, Lake District National Park Apprentice Supervisor, said he was delighted with the award, which would be spent on further training and equipment for the volunteers. “It has been a long term aspiration to set up this scheme, which has been made possible through Heritage Lottery Funding.
“We have had some real help from mentors and LDNPA staff, who have given their time and skills to help train our apprentices in a range of traditional crafts. And we have had some brilliant volunteers, some of whom are keen to move into countryside careers.
Fell Futures is hoping to expand with potential help from the Local Enterprise Partnership, which could lead to up to 55 apprentices and 100 volunteers working on the project.”
*To find out more about the Fell Futures scheme – go to www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/lakesapprentices or http://www.facebook.com/lakesapprentices