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Grant will help recruit an army to care for the coast
Grant will help recruit an army to care for the coast

Coast Care, an initiative that will recruit and train an army of volunteers to look after the North Northumberland Coastal area, has been awarded a grant of £522,600 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The North Northumberland Coastal area, much of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is a stunning landscape popular with local people and visitors alike. It includes nature reserves, wildlife habitats and historic buildings of national or international importance, but it is a fragile landscape that requires careful management.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant from the HLF will enable Coast Care to employ a small staff team to recruit and support volunteers who will help care for this special place.

Coast Care is a partnership initiative bringing the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Seahouses Development Trust together to oversee the project. The staff team will be based in Seahouses in the heart of the Coast Care area and it is anticipated that a project co-ordinator will be recruited early in 2017.

The Coast Care area is the coastal landscape from Amble in the south to Berwick in the north and stretching west as far as Lowick, Belford and Alnwick.

Cllr John Woodman, Chair of the AONB Partnership, said “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 whether it is conserving wildlife habitats, preserving historic buildings or just improving the area in which they live. We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has decided to support this initiative.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are very pleased to be able support Coast Care. The project will increase capacity to look after the landscape by effectively ‘match making’ volunteers with volunteering opportunities and co-ordinating effort so that, collectively, local people, communities and visitors are able to contribute to the management of their amazing natural and cultural heritage. Training, support and resources will be provided to enable as many people as possible to contribute and to maximise the potential of an, as yet untapped, volunteer ‘army’”.

Steve Lowe, Head of Conservation at NWT said “The Coast Care project will provide volunteering opportunities such as beach clean-ups, site management and a host of other opportunities that help in taking care of this special part of Northumberland. As an active volunteer myself, outside of my day job, I am amazed by what a group of dedicated and well supported volunteers can achieve; by co-ordinating that enthusiasm this project will help people to do their bit and have fun along the way”

Shirley Wright from Seahouses Development Trust said “One of the highlights for me will be the opportunity to restart the Young Rangers programme which gives 13-18 year-olds practical hands-on experience of countryside management.”

Anybody interested in volunteering should contact the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership by email at info@northumberlandcoastaonb.org or by calling 01670 622306. The Northumberland Coast AONB website – www.northumberlandcoastaonb.org will have more information soon as will their Facebook page. 

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