The Duchess marked the completion of the core structure in a special topping-off ceremony and took a tour of the site to see progress on what will be a visitor destination, but also a gateway from which extensive learning and research activities will be available.
She was joined by 93-year-old Jack Hope, from Wooler, the National Park’s original warden, who clocked up 66 years’ service, and pupils from nearby Henshaw Primary School. Also pictured is NNPA’s chief executive Tony Gates and chairman Glen Sanderson.
Coun Sanderson said: “Years of planning and hard work by the National Park Authority, our partners and our contractor, have enabled us to reach this significant milestone for The Sill.
“We are incredibly proud and excited to be entering the final stages of construction and thrilled to welcome the Duchess to share this significant moment with us.
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“The Sill promises to provide a 21st-century platform for us to work closely with our partners locally and across the wider region to attract more people to the county, enable local enterprise to thrive and create more jobs by capitalising on growing tourism opportunities.”
The Sill is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors per year and deliver substantial economic benefits within the Park and beyond by contributing an estimated £2.5million a year to the North-East economy.
The Duchess of Northumberland said: “The Sill is an exciting new development for the county and located in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas of the country. I’d like to congratulate Northumberland National Park Authority on their vision and determination to create a building which captures the unique qualities of the National Park and will re-engage people with the landscape, nature and the great outdoors.
“The Sill also heralds a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shine a national spotlight on the vital importance of landscape to our health, wealth and well-being. The activity and engagement programme promises to stimulate and nurture the next generation of landscape enthusiasts, open up access to the countryside for everyone and ensure that these important wild places – and the communities within them – continue to thrive.”