Recognising and rewarding those supporting the park

A number of businesses and individuals from north Northumberland were celebrated at the National Park Awards last week.

The second annual awards in Northumberland were announced on Thursady night at the National Park Forum, held at the Swimming and Leisure Centre in Haltwhistle, one of the National Park gateway towns.

The awards were established 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 of the National Park Management Plan.

And north Northumberland was well represented among the winners and the special mentions. Jimmy and Jean Givens won the Curlew Award for an exceptional contribution for dedicated service to the National Park, both as employees and as volunteers, for more than thirty years.

In the same category, Marion Graham, of The Old School House Tea Room in Elsdon received a special mention.

The Thriving Communities Award was won by Branton School Parent-Teacher Group.

As reported in the Gazette, the school was at risk of closure until community support and the setting-up of a nursery ensured it remained viable.

Lord James Percy and the Linhope Estate Works were recognised in two categories, winning the Living-Working Landscape Award and receiving a special mention in the Distinctive Place category.

It’s a reward for ‘having the vision to embark on a long-term, large-scale project to restore the full suite of upland habitats found in the Cheviots to the upper Breamish valley, securing not only the wildlife and landscape but also the livelihoods of estate workers and the community for many years to come’.

And the Distinctive Place category was won by Jeanne Caskin, of the Coquetdale Red Squirrel Group, for providing a safe haven for the ‘red squirrels that are such a distinctive part of the Coquetdale landscape’.

Geoff Holland, of the website, also received a special mention, in the Welcoming Park category, for ‘taking the initiative, unpaid, to be a visitor ambassador for the National Park and champion of the Cheviots’.

John Riddle, chairman of Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “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 I congratulate and thank the winners and all the nominees for their generous commitment of time and ideas.”

The authority’s chief executive Tony Gates added: “The National Park Authority was unsure in launching the Awards in 2011 whether they could be sustained each year, but we needn’t have worried.”