It’s the end of my third full week in my new role as Director, and I already feel like I’ve been here for years… everyone has been very welcoming and helpful and I’m quickly settling into the team.
My time so far has been filled with a wide variety of activities. One of my first tasks was to get a thorough understanding of all the exciting things Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust has been getting up to over the last three months, from our Dark Skies project to our new inspiring art workshops and even our recently launched Friends scheme.
In my second week, I had the privilege of sharing in the Northumbrian Water Leisure team’s success when Leaplish Waterside Park was awarded Bronze for Best Holiday Park at the Visit England 2014 Awards.
Coming hot on the heels of Kielder’s award as the Best Tourism Experience in England in 2013, it was inspiring to see that the Park is still recognised as being among the best in the country.
Given my previous role at Northumberland County Council, I was equally proud when two other Northumberland businesses won Gold Awards that evening and delighted to see our county so strongly represented.
On another positive note, we launched the Park’s Friends scheme, with support from Sunderland-born, TV architect, George Clarke – the first North East star to become a ‘Friend’ of Kielder Water & Forest Park.
Our Friends scheme will help us to conserve wildlife, develop educational opportunities and enhance the great attractions available at the Park. Plus, Friends will receive various offers and promotions. If you fancy joining George and becoming a Friend, click here for more info.
One of the opportunities I’m most excited about is our Dark Skies astro-tourism potential.
There has been a huge amount of interest in stargazing following ITV’s Robson Green’s Tales from Northumberland, Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and our recent designation as an International Dark Sky Park, together with Northumberland National Park.
Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust is leading a DEFRA funded project, with support from other partners in Northumberland and the North Pennines, to help businesses take advantage of this new opportunity, as well as improving the facilities on offer for visitors.
A number of businesses are already reporting an increase in trade from people wanting to come and experience the Park’s deep dark skies and the fabulous Kielder Observatory.
A series of workshops has been arranged for any business that would like to know more about how to provide an unforgettable dark sky experience for their visitors. You can find out more about the workshops here.
As you can see my role here is varied, fun and challenging. Over the coming months I’m looking forward to meeting everyone that’s involved in helping to make Kielder and the surrounding area such a special place and being part of some exciting projects in a spectacular location.
In addition, to remind you just how great the Park is, keep reading our blog page where we will be letting a ‘guest’ blogger loose with words every month – from forest rangers, to local schools!
Director, Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust