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Stackyard News Mar 2010

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£50,000 Secures Future of Children’s Countryside Day

The Glendale Agricultural Society has confirmed that the future of its Children’s Countryside Day has been secured thanks to £40,000 of support from the Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group.

Branton First School, who attend The Glendale Agricultural Society’s Children’s Countryside Day show Tom Burston of NULAG and Sarah Nelson Project Manager for the event the turf for their turf seating area.

Branton First School

The funding which will be provided over a four year period is vital for the continued success of this unique educational event. The 'Environment Agency's Local Levy funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee will also contribute £10,000 of funding to this year’s event.

The Glendale Agricultural Society’s Children’s Countryside Day held near Wooler in Northumberland is one of the foremost rural educational events in the UK. During the past five years, over 8000 first school pupils have learnt about rural life and the importance of conserving the countryside.

Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (NULAG) is hosted by its lead Partner the Northumberland National Park Authority. Funding is made available through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, and is managed by One NorthEast in the North East region.

Cheviot Futures is a partnership initiated by the Environment Agency to help local people adapt their land and businesses to the changing climate. It brings together farmers, landowners and agencies to ensure that practical measures are taken forward to adapt to climate change. Peter Kerr, Programme Manager for the Local Levy tells us why they are proud to be sponsoring the Children's Day for the second year running:

“Cheviot Futures recognises the importance of teaching children about the impacts of climate change and how our landscape is changing and this event provides a great way of doing this in an outdoor setting and in an interactive and fun way.”

NULAG specifically funds projects which it believes will create sustainable development in rural areas. As Tom Burston, NULAG Co-ordinator explains, “Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group is delighted to support the Children’s Countryside Day, the only show of its kind between Harrogate and Edinburgh. It fits clearly with many of our key aims, specifically, to promote the natural environment; to develop local produce; and to further community engagement with the countryside.”

The organisation’s new LEADER Local Development Strategy, Northumberland Upwards, aims to provide a focus for the sustainable development of the rural Northumberland Uplands. Funding is only given to innovative and forward thinking projects it believes will enhance the economic, environmental and social welfare of rural communities. As such it sees the Children’s Day as a perfect fit as the Glendale Agricultural Society are leading the way in helping towards the long term sustainability of the countryside.

The annual event is open to all first schools in Northumberland and some from Tyneside and to date over 50 urban and rural schools have taken part. The Children’s Countryside Day aims to improve pupils’ knowledge of rural living and food production and promote a healthy lifestyle. It is run in collaboration with an army of volunteers from local businesses and associations and engages children through practical demonstrations.

NULAG believes that this event is a perfect platform for getting children on board at a very young age safeguarding the long term future of key skills, the environment and communities of rural areas. Anthony Murray Local Councillor and a member of the NULAG Committee tells us why he feels that it is important to support this event:

“I have lived in Glendale almost all my life and hold the Glendale Agricultural Society in high esteem. Having been a Steward at The Children’s Countryside Day for a number of years, it always amazes me how things I take for granted are a completely new experience to some urban visitors. There is a tremendous feeling of togetherness between the volunteers who have gathered to ensure that the young visitors enjoy a happy day which is educational and safe.

“I am certain that the financial support NULAG  has supplied to the Glendale Children's Day is fulfilling the remit the committee were given and a wide range of people, both rural and urban, are being activated to ensure that there is a bright future for our Northumbrian Uplands.”

To encourage the schools to prepare for their visit, each year the event has a different annual theme; in 2010 the focus will be on the “Changing Landscape.” The Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee are working with their partners in Cheviot Futures to put together a display that will highlight both the positive and negative effects of climate change on the local landscape to the visiting children.

Each year over there are 70 educational exhibits and activities. They include farm livestock; sheep shearing; goats being milked; plants and vegetables being sown and grown; bread-making; butchery; fly-fishing; archaeology; renewable energy and healthy recipes being cooked. The exhibitors talk to the children in small groups and the children are able to take part in activities and ask questions in an informal, fun and relaxed setting away from the classroom.

Sarah Nelson, Company Secretary of the Glendale Agricultural Society explains why this funding is so important: “The Children’s Countryside Day is free to attend for the 1500 pupils who take part each year. The event is completely self financing and without the support of sponsors like Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group and The Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee, there would quite literally not be a Children’s Day. We still need to raise further funds but the Leader money has laid the foundations of the event to continue for the next four years and the support from The Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee is the icing on the cake.”

For more information on the Glendale Agricultural Society and the 2010 Children’s Countryside Day, visit

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