The National Trust recognises unsung ‘Green Heroes’

The National Trust has announced the six winners of the first ever Octavia Hill Awards at a special ceremony in London.

A prolific drystone waller, an intrepid volunteer youth worker and famous TV walker were among the green heroes celebrated by the National Trust.

The awards are named after Trust founder and social reformer Octavia Hill who died in 1912. They are being run in partnership with Countryfile Magazine.

Nominated by the public and then put to an online poll that saw nearly seven thousand votes, each winner is keeping the spirit of Octavia alive – standing up for precious natural spaces and places.

The winners of the Octavia Hill Awards were: Patrick Frew from Country Antrim, Northern Ireland is the ‘Growing Hero’ – Patrick has turned a one-acre site into a diverse growing space. Young children enjoy visits to the site to reconnect with nature while elderly residents are treated to home deliveries of compost and easy salad plants ready to make their own DIY ‘Doorstep Allotments’.

Roger Parkinson from Wakefield, West Yorkshire is a ‘Natural Hero’ – Roger is an inspirational tree conservation leader, a public speaker and field teacher. As a practitioner, he’s helped restore a five-acre arboretum with more than 150 tree species and he’s helped individuals and groups with their own woodland creation projects.

Matt Smith from Bootle, Liverpool is the ‘Inspirational Hero’ – Volunteer youth worker Matt is tackling anti-social behaviour by getting young people into the outdoors. As a volunteer he organises nature hikes, camping and self-sufficiency trips that educate, inspire and sometimes change lives.

Julia Bradbury was voted ‘The People’s Campaigner’ – Julia picked up the award for someone in the public spotlight who’s championed an issue or cause. Her passion for walking began at an early age and she was formerly President of the Ramblers Association. Her public profile as a popular TV presenter gives her the chance to champion and promote the landscape she loves.

The Friends of King Henry’s Walk Garden in North London are the ‘Green Space Guardians’ – A scrap of wasteland in North London is now a tranquil community garden thanks to this group. King Henry’s Walk Garden is enjoyed by the many families who don’t have outside space and people can rent space to grow their own produce.

Eric Shorrocks of Arnside Knott, Cumbria wins the ‘Love Places’ Award – A self-taught professional drystone waller, Eric has passed on his skills, training up at least 20 others in the craft and, as a National Trust volunteer, he’s been dedicating his free time to everything from litter picking and path clearing to saving precious limestone grassland from scrub invasion.

The Awards attracted more than 160 entries and a final shortlist was selected by a panel of judges with a wide knowledge of green and social issues. Sitting on the panel alongside Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, were Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine, academic and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts and journalist and writer Candida Lycett Green.

The public then voted, in their thousands, for the shortlisted entries.

Each of the winners will receive a specially commissioned bowl made by Tony Alderman who works at the National Trust’s Chartwell in Kent. The bowls have been made using English elm, oak and yew collected from woods near to Crockham in Kent where Octavia Hill lived.

They also win the opportunity to be mentored by a Trust expert and will be profiled in Countryfile Magazine.

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The RoboShower™ Brings A Transforming Touch To Your Daily Shower

The RoboShower™ is a patent pending shower head system that was designed by Mr. Audie Norr, a local inventor and designer. The RoboShower™ aims to take showering and the relaxation that it can provide to another level.

The RoboShower™ is rectangular in design with over 20” double-wide adaptable and one-of-a-kind head. This is to ensure that practically anyone will be able to receive adequate coverage of water flow while showering. Inventor, Mr. Audie Norr, did however keep a host of body types and sizes in mind with the design, and equipped the RoboShower™ with the ability to go from rectangular to a triangle shape to allow users to be able to manipulate the RoboShower™ to best fit their coverage needs.

The RoboShower™ also comes packaged with a shower Extension Arm and plumbers Thread Seal tape for security and mounting. The colors of choice for the RoboShower™ are silver and blue.

RoboShower™ inventor, Mr. Audie Norr, had two primary goals in mind when designing the RoboShower™. He wanted to provide the general public a shower system that gives options for waterfall coverage with the ever growing differentiation of body sizes of consumers today, as well as provide a shower system that was eco-conscious by saving on overall water usage.

When asked how he ultimately feels about the RoboShower™, Mr. Norr, states:

“When you buy your first RoboShower™, and I say first because you will fall in love with the ease in how your shower water cascades all over you, you will become a lifetime fan. But more importantly, you will be standing in the shower beholding a Patent pending, adaptable, and only one of its kind shower system in the world, how cool is that?”

Mr. Audie Norr is a Dallas, Texas based inventor and designer. He is continuously committed to inventing and presenting to the public products that are unrivaled, eco-conscious, and that deliver a solution to an ever growing concern from the general public.

For Additional Media Inquiries, Please Contact: Mr. Audie Norr, Inventor and Designer for RoboShower™ or visit the website – http://www.buyroboshower.com/.

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National Trust MyFarm Experiment To Go Free

The National Trust has announced that one year on from the launch of its innovative and award-winning MyFarm project, the charity is dropping the £30 sign-up fee in a bid to widen its success and inspire even more people to engage with farming and food.

The experiment – based at the Trust’s 1,450 acre Wimpole Home Farm in Cambridgeshire – was launched last May to encourage people to learn about day-to-day farm life and get a better understanding of where their food comes from.

The virtual farmers are able to view day-to-day farm activities via blogs from the farm team, videos and live webcams. Significantly they can also influence what happens on the farm by voting on key decisions usually made by the farmer.

As the project moves into year two, the team behind the project are seeking to increase the number of people who take part in MyFarm, and cover
a wider range of food topics.

Farm Manager Richard Morris said: “We’ve learnt a lot from our 5,000-strong audience over the last 12 months, especially how interested people are in following and finding out about the day-to-day running of the farm.

“The experiment has helped us deepen people’s understanding of the challenges faced by farmers in the wider market place including the European and World markets, and enabled those involved to comment on a wide range of farming issues.

“It’s been the animal stories that have really captured the public’s hearts – both births and deaths. MyFarmers have also loved getting to know the farm team, the rare breed animals kept at Wimpole and the monthly votes which explore one particular aspect of farming in more depth, with the majority vote then carried out on the farm.”

The National Trust is the country’s biggest farmer and through MyFarm hopes to help people understand the issues facing farming today, the numerous and daily decisions farmers have to make, as well as the joy and the heartache which is part and parcel of farm life.

As part of the changes the Trust will also now host the experiment on its own website rather than the current microsite. It will also make broader use of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with users and to encourage further discussion on food and farming issues.

Founding Farmers – those who joined in the first year – will be invited to continue as ambassadors on these platforms to encourage more people to join in; sharing the journeys they have been on over the last 12 months.

MyFarm Project Manager Andrew Cock-Starkey added: “Our members come from all over the world as well as from the UK and after a successful first year we believe we’ve established a clear demand for this kind of learning. Now we want to reach even more people and build a broader understanding of farming.

“Waiving the membership fee will, we hope, help us reach a much wider audience, as will ensuring we have appealing content for users of different ages across various platforms.”

Deputy President of the National Farmers’ Union Meurig Raymond said: “This project is an effective and fun way of engaging people in farming and the hard work and skill that goes into producing food for their table. With more and more people using social media to communicate, share views and influence decisions MyFarm also tackles some of the more serious issues and involves its supporters in the day-to-day running of a real-life farm.”

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The National Trust Launches New Competition To Capture The Spirit Of Octavia On Camera

The National Trust has launched a new amateur photography competition called ‘Your Space’ which is set to celebrate green spaces and the life of National Trust founder Octavia Hill.

Run in conjunction with National Trust Magazine, the competition will run from May until August and asks people to capture what green spaces mean to them.

Four internationally-acclaimed photographers, Mary McCartney, Joe Cornish, Arnhel de Serra and Charlie Waite, have helped launch the ‘Your Space‘ competition with a new collection of pictures at National Trust places that capture the relationship between people and green places.

Octavia Hill was a leading environmental campaigner in Victorian Britain. She campaigned to save green spaces in and around London, such as Parliament Hill, and, years ahead of her time, saw the benefit of spending time in the outdoors and closer to nature.

As one of three founders of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, set about acquiring green places and built heritage to be looked after by the charity for the benefit of the nation until she died in August 1912.

The competition is based around her writings on green space: ‘We all need space; unless we have it we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently [and we need] places to sit in, places to play in, places to stroll in, and places to spend a day in…’

The competition includes all green space in the UK, not just National Trust places, and hopes to capture images of everyday green places.

These could include pictures from the local park, where people play with their kids or walk their dogs, or favourite strolls in the countryside.

What is important is that the images capture what these places mean to the photographer and why they matter.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “This competition is all about using photography to reflect on why green spaces matter to us as a nation. We’re looking for powerful and inspiring images that celebrate this special relationship that we have with our parks and countryside.”

There are four categories in the competition: ten and under, 11-16 year olds, over 16s and smartphones. Entries need to be submitted by 31 August 2012 and the full terms and conditions can be found on the website*.

The prize for the overall winner, worth £1,500, will include a bespoke one-to-one day long workshop with award winning landscape photographer Charlie Waite, a special landscape print and up to two nights stay in a National Trust holiday cottage.

The three runners-up will join Charlie at a National Trust property for day which includes lunch and behind-the-scenes tour.

A panel of judges, including Mary McCartney, Joe Cornish, Arnhel de Serra, Charlie Waite, Sue Herdman (Editor of National Trust Magazine) and Chris Lacey (National Trust Photographic Manager), will decide on the winners for the four categories. One of the category winners will then go on to be the overall winner of the competition.

Entries for the competition can be uploaded at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/yourspace and shared via Facebook and twitter.

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The National Trust Launches Legal Challenge Against Landmark Wind Farm Decision

The National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council have made a joint legal challenge against planning permission for a wind farm that would be built within one mile of a Grade I listed building and registered park and garden.

The proposal would see four 126.5m wind turbines built within the setting of the Lyveden New Bield site, a place described by the Planning Inspector who granted approval for the plans as “probably the finest example of an Elizabethan garden [with a] cultural value of national if not international significance”.

After planning permission was initially refused by the local Council, the development was given consent on appeal in March 2012. The three organisations started legal proceedings on 23 April under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. It is extremely rare for English Heritage and the National Trust to pursue legal action and it is the first time that East Northamptonshire Council has ever taken a case to this level.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust explained the decision to take the matter to the Administrative Court: “We fully support renewable energy and have made our own commitment to halve our dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. We have also backed a number of wind proposals where scale and setting have been considered appropriate.

“However, the decision to allow a development of this size so close to one of the country’s most treasured historic places is both damaging to Lyveden New Bield and could have serious implications for other heritage sites across the UK.”

As a Grade I listed building, registered park and garden and scheduled ancient monument, Lyveden New Bield’s unfinished Elizabethan lodge and gardens have the highest heritage designation possible. The wind turbines would be prominent, modern structures in a landscape that still evokes the character of Lyveden New Bield’s historic Rockingham Forest surroundings. The turbines would be visible from almost everywhere on the property.

Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “Our challenge to his decision is not simply about the balance of professional judgement between heritage and renewable energy. The Inspector did not adequately take into account the contribution that Lyveden New Bield’s historic and rural surroundings make to its immense significance.”

Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Steven North added: “It is regrettable that it has come to this, but we fully support this legal challenge and will be working closely with the National Trust and English Heritage to protect this heritage site.”

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National Trust Launches New Heritage Gardening Courses

The National Trust has announced two new heritage gardening courses, representing the charity’s most significant development in horticultural training for 20 years.

Co-funded by the National Gardens Scheme, the new courses will offer budding gardeners the opportunity to study for qualifications in heritage gardening and replace the Trust’s Careership training scheme launched in 1991*.

For those new to heritage gardening, the one year Foundation Certificate will develop the essential practical skills needed to look after and nurture heritage gardens, and is aligned with the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Level 2 in Horticulture.

The two year Diploma in Heritage Gardening is unique to the National Trust and offers what is arguably the most comprehensive grounding in heritage gardening available for those with some prior experience and relevant qualifications. It builds on the Foundation level training, providing trainees with an in-depth and working knowledge of heritage gardens.

Mike Calnan, Head of Gardens at the National Trust said: “Our new gardening courses are a great step forward and have been designed to develop the modern skills needed to sustainably manage major heritage gardens into the future. We believe they are a significant development for the sector and fill the training gap between existing botanic horticulture and amenity gardening diplomas.

“We can now offer two entry points and great opportunities for people wishing to develop a long and rewarding career in heritage gardening and a spring board for those aspiring to become our Head Gardeners of the future.”

Developed in conjunction with Reaseheath College in Cheshire**, the gardening coursesare largely practical, with trainees based at major National Trust gardens. To supplement this practical learning, trainees also spend 10 weeks a year at Reaseheath developing their horticultural knowledge.

In addition to traditional and modern techniques used in major gardens, trainees on the Diploma course will cover plant conservation, GPS surveys and plant databases; garden history, period planting styles, restoration, and interpretation and visitor engagement techniques.

Trainees on both courses will be able to work alongside the National Trust’s most experienced Head Gardeners in some of the most famous gardens in the country such as Sissinghurst, Hidcote and Stourhead. They will also learn about garden conservation from the National Trust’s gardening experts and will have opportunities to develop additional skills and knowledge with placements at other Trust gardens.

The new courses start in September 2012 and there are 10 places available on each. Applicants can find out more information at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gardencareers and apply from 27 April 2012.

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