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Chairing Children of the Countryside
2011-02-21

The Glendale Agricultural Society has announced that Jayne Watson will Chair its annual Children’s Countryside Day. Attended by over 1500 first school pupils, this is the biggest educational event of its kind in the north of England. Working with the committee, Jayne is aiming to ensure that once again, all pupils leave with a sense that our countryside is a place full of opportunity, diversity, fun and excitement.

Jayne Watson will Chair its annual
Children’s Countryside Day

Jayne Watson

Every June, the Glendale Showfield near Wooler is transformed into an open air classroom giving children a unique opportunity to learn more about the countryside. Jayne who grew up in Glendale is well qualified to steer this event and this is the second time she has been invited to do so. Her role as an agent for NFU Mutual based in Morpeth and life on the family farm at Bowsden Moor, Berwick-upon-Tweed with husband Jonathan and two children James (6) and Thomas (4), means she is well aware of the importance of rural issues. James who attends Lowick First School will be attending the event for the first time and is looking forward to seeing it first hand.

The children aged 4-9 from schools in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear come from both rural and urban areas and for many this is their first taste of country life. Each year in order to connect the curriculum to the countryside and allow teachers to help pupils prepare for the day, the event has a specific theme. In 2011 this will be ‘Grow Eat Grow’ and Jayne explains the reason for this choice :

“Grow Eat Grow is a way of encapsulating the basic principles of ‘you are what you eat’, and becoming more in touch with the source of our food. In its most basic form – we grow food to eat in order to grow. Food production is an important part of the Glendale area but is integrated with many other related industries which work together to make our landscape, our community, our workplace and our environment so special. This year the Countryside Day will show children this diversity and while food production, quality, price and source are all hot topics, the aim is to provide simple, clear messages so children can make their own informed choices in the future.”

The event now in its 7th year is a huge undertaking by the local community and is supported by a range of organisations and local individuals and businesses including hosts the Lilburn Estate Farming Partnership, without whom the day would not be possible. Livestock is brought in both from the estate and neighbouring farms with farmers on hand to talk to the children. The local farrier, vet, hunt, stick-dressing association and land agents are involved as well as the National Gamekeepers Organisation, Tarmac Ltd, The Potato Council, the NFU, The Country Trust and the County Council. The participation of local food producers is integral to the day and those represented include Heatherslaw Mill, Doddington Dairy, Sunnyhill Eggs and various local butchers.

Jayne says; “We are truly grateful to all these dedicated exhibitors who give their time and resources freely to this event with a shared passion for its worth, they ensure that this event can take place each summer. We can all be proud of the event we have developed and feedback shows that it is a positive learning experience for all the children involved.”

This sponsorship is vital and funding is currently sourced from the Leader programme and other trusts and organisations. As Chair, Jayne is responsible not just for the content of the day but also its financial viability: “The committee is always looking at new ways to showcase our event and invite new exhibitors to engage with this important audience – our consumers of the future. Over the last year, the committee has taken the opportunity to learn more from other events and businesses with similar aims so that we can continue to develop and secure the future of this event. The day has to be self-sufficient and one of the challenges we face is to source continued funding in the current economic climate.”

Anyone interested in supporting the Children’s Countryside Day should contact Project Manager Sarah Nelson at the Glendale Agricultural Society on Tel. 01668 283868, email sarah@glendaleshow.com visit www.glendaleshow.com

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