I am always surprised by the New Year – time passes so quickly and it is hard to believe that one year has ended when it seems like only a blink of an eye since it began – but here I am, two days into 2016 wondering what on earth happened to 2015!
I was busy in 2015, and looking back I can see why. Here is a quick round up of my year:
I was absolutely delighted when Northumberland Wildlife Trust announced Heritage Lottery funding for the Dynamic Druridge project and I have really enjoyed watching the progress of the new visitor centre at Hauxley Nature Reserve – built by volunteers from straw bales, timber and stone. A real landmark on the coast and a building set to be one of the greenest constructions in the area. I can’t wait to set foot inside in 2016.
I have also worked with NWT to secure first round approval for two significant Heritage Lottery Fund applications. The Restoring Ratty project will work with Forestry Commission and Tyne Rivers Trust to reintroduce water voles to Kielder Forest and Red Squirrels United, a partnership led by Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and involving 9 conservation organisations, will protect red squirrel populations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Both these projects will be submitted to HLF early in 2016.
I have continued to support Bailiffgate Museum and Gallery, working closely with trustees to secure core funding from local charitable trusts and to establish a development project with funding from Arts Council Resilience Fund. In the spring I was involved in the appointment of a new Operations Manager (implementing a new staffing structure which I had recommended in 2014) and it has been great to see the difference that this has made to the Museum. In December, the Heritage Lottery funded Heritage at the Heart of the Community came to an end and I was pleased to write an evaluation report which summed up the achievements of volunteers through this very ambitious and transformational project.
The organ restoration project at Holy Trinity Church in Horsley is a community project led by members of the church congregation. The church organ has a fascinating history but is currently in a state of disrepair. I was asked to help them complete a Stage 2 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and I was pleased to hear that, at the end of the year, this was approved. I am going to continue working with the Horsley Organ Group to evaluate the project and I am really looking forward to hearing the newly restored organ.
I always love working with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust as I spent so many years there before I moved to Northumberland. In 2015 I worked with them to establish a new programme which would develop an outdoor learning offer for schools, families and young people. This was supported by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.
I have worked with Northumbria Coalition Against Crime for a while now and I never fail to be inspired by some of the stories of the young people they support. In 2015 I was able to secure a small grant for them to offer counseling support to some of their most vulnerable clients.
I am very pleased to have started working with Tyne Rivers Trust. I was asked to write a fundraising strategy and I am looking forward to working with the Trust Director to impmement this in 2016.
Finally, I am very excited to be working with local filmmaker and good friend Alan Fentiman on a participative evaluation of the DerwentWISE project (a landscape partnership led by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust).
Phew! What a year! I’m not really one for making New Years resolutions or predictions but I have a couple of exciting new projects on the horizon which I hope to see come to life in 2016. I am also hoping to catch up with some of the projects mentioned above (in particular, stepping inside the new Hauxley Visitor Centre) and I would love to further develop the participative evaluation approach and offer this to more projects.
Happy New Year!