Volunteering project on the Northumberland coast wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

The Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to develop a volunteering project it was announced today.

The project aims to increase the number and range of opportunities for volunteers on the Northumberland coast, and has been developed by the AONB Partnership working with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Seahouses Development Trust.

One of the main objectives of the project is will be to match individuals or groups of volunteers to conservation work that will enhance the natural beauty, wildlife habitats or historic features of the coast It will also provide training and support to enable volunteers to increase their skills and to get the most out of the time that they put into the project. Re-establishing the Young Rangers group and piloting an innovative community champions scheme are also important elements of the bid.

Funding of £13,500 has been awarded to enable the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership to appoint a consultant to develop the project. This phase will include developing the project aims and initiatives, delivering taster sessions and running consultation events.

Cllr John Woodman, Chair of the AONB Partnership, said “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided to support this project. The Northumberland coast is a very special place and working together we can make sure it remains so.

“We know that there are many people who live on the coast or nearby who want to help to improve the area, and we can’t afford to keep turning them away. This project will match those people to jobs that need doing to conserve wildlife habitats, preserve historic buildings or just improve the area in which they live, and will help them to get the most out of the time that they give."

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Ivor Crowther, HLF regional manager said, “The Heritage of the Northumberland coast is unique. Nowhere else can you see so many castles and other evidence of 8000 years of human inhabitation side-by side with internationally important areas for wildlife in a place where many people live and work. This project will engage people in protecting and enhancing this wonderful place and that is why HLF is pleased to support it.”

The Northumberland Coast has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) since 1958 in recognition of the quality of the landscape. AONBs are a national landscape designation and together with National Parks they make up our finest landscapes. The Northumberland Coast AONB covers 135 sq.kms, between Berwick and the Coquet estuary. The area is best known for its sweeping sandy beaches and open views, rolling dunes and rocky cliffs, isolated islands, dramatic castles, ancient relics and rich wildlife.