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Thursday, 6 November 2014

New Forest Christmas Fair - come and join in the fun

Children enjoy a wagon ride with Father Christmas
at the 2013 New Forest Christmas Fair.
Kick off the festive season with locally produced seasonal gifts, tasty hot food and wagon rides with Santa at the New Forest Christmas Fair.

After last year’s successful event, which attracted over 10,000 visitors, the fair is returning to New Park, Brockenhurst on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 December.

The gates are open from 10am until 4pm, with over 100 stalls and food outlets on site as well as a youth choir and Woodfalls brass band playing Christmas tunes. Visitors can purchase their Forestry Commission Christmas tree, enjoy a glass of mulled wine, browse for interesting or unusual locally sourced presents, or sample delicious festive food.

Many of the traders are members of the New Forest Marque, a quality assurance scheme supported by the New Forest National Park Authority. The Marque promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, and encourages people to shop locally.

If you are a local trader we would like to hear from you, as there are some pitches still available. Make sure you join the many businesses that make the most of this prime opportunity to sell their goods during the build-up to Christmas.

Marque member Catherine Shutler, of Cyril’s Soap Shed, attended the fair last year to sell her goat’s milk soap. Catherine said: ‘The fair is a wonderful event - there are lots of great stalls to buy unique presents and seasonal goodies, and many of the traders are local to the New Forest.

‘The weekend has such a friendly and festive atmosphere, so much so that there are quite a few people who come both days because they have such a good time.’

Sarah Hunt, New Forest Marque manager and fair co-ordinator, said: ‘We’ve run the fair for two years now, and it’s continuing to go from strength to strength. Last year’s event was hugely popular with visitors and stallholders alike, and the 2014 fair will have even more attractions and stalls for everyone to enjoy.

‘Take advantage of the fantastic range of local products on offer and take the hassle out of Christmas by doing all your shopping in one place. And remember – Marque businesses benefit from reduced pitch rates, which is one of dozens of reasons to be a member.’

For more information on the fair, or to reserve a trading stall at the event, email jenna.bessant@newforestnpa.gov.uk or phone 01590 646692.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Heritage on My Doorstep - have you a desire for local history

Volunteers in the New Forest Heritage on My Doorstep project
Archaeology volunteers in the New Forest
Anyone with an interest in history and a desire to discover more about their local area can unearth the secrets of their community’s past as part of an exciting new project.

Heritage on My Doorstep is a pioneering initiative that will help people in the New Forest to investigate and interpret their area’s past, before sharing their discoveries with the wider community.

The project will be led by the New Forest National Park Authority and will form part of the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will run from 2016 once funding is confirmed.

With support from experts, training in archaeological and research skills, and grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the buildings, people and nature that combine to form your area’s heritage.  

To be one of the communities involved in Heritage on My Doorstep you just need to:

Have a desire to discover your local area and share your findings with the wider community

Have a pool of people who want to support your venture and volunteer their time

Undertake a heritage project and interpret and publicise your findings.
Marian Spain, New Forest National Park Authority member, said: ‘The aim of this exciting four year project is to empower local communities to research and promote their own heritage and interests.

‘You can form a group to research anything and everything that interests you about your local area, which could be how your town or village was established, significant events such as the advent of war, or the history of a certain building, monument or person.’

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

If you have any questions, or would like your community to be involved, contact James Brown at James.brown@newforestnpa.gov.uk or 01590 646695.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

£46,000 of improvements to open spaces and recreation facilities

Play equipment, skateboarding areas and revamped open spaces are just some of the £46,000 of improvements the New Forest National Park Authority has supported thanks to funding from local house builders.

As the planning body for the National Park, the Authority negotiates financial contributions from developers for open space enhancements and then works with town and parish councils to improve recreation facilities across the New Forest.

Since May this year alone, over £30,000 has been handed out to communities to support improvements to local open spaces in the National Park.

Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority’s Planning Committee, said: ‘Nearly all local planning authorities require developers to help enhance open spaces to offset new development and make sure communities have open spaces on their doorstep that they can use.

‘This money comes from new developments and can only be spent on outdoor spaces in the community where the building work took place.

‘I’m delighted that parishes are able to see a real benefit from these developer contributions and this funding is making a difference in New Forest communities.’

Schemes allocated funding so far this financial year include:

  • re-surfacing the children’s play area at Highwood Road, Brockenhurst
  • a contribution towards the costs of new skateboard equipment at the Coles Mead Recreation Ground, Lyndhurst
  • new play equipment at Whartons Lane Recreation Ground, Ashurst
  • up-grading the surface around the toddler play equipment at Landford Recreation Ground.

Other projects to benefit in recent years include:

  • enhancing the Great Mead open space, Lyndhurst
  • installing new play equipment at Nomansland Sports Ground.

The Authority continues to work with parish councils in the National Park to identify further projects which could benefit from the funding available.

Monday, 3 November 2014

New Forest Beach Bus shortlisted for UK Bus Awards

A New Forest bus service has been nominated for a national award after a successful summer.

Beach Bus team after being shortlisted for an UK Bus Award: (front row from l-r) Nat Taplin from the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA), Annie Lawrie from NFNPA, Paul Goddard from morebus, (middle row from l-r) Nigel Philpott from Exbury Gardens, Alistair Strong from morebus, Mark Holroyd from NFNPA, Gary Rose from morebus, and (back row) Wayne Clarke from morebus.
In only its second season, the Beach Bus attracted 7,993 passenger trips to Hythe, Lepe, Beaulieu and Lymington in just 37 days - a 35% increase from 5,898 passengers journeys in 2013.

As well as hourly services and a free ferry link from Southampton to Hythe, passengers also enjoyed discounts at attractions and free ice creams at Lepe beach during its five week season (26 July – August 31).

Now, the Beach Bus has been shortlisted as one of five finalists for Local Authority Bus Project of the Year at the UK Bus Awards.

The service is run by the New Forest National Park Authority in partnership with operator morebus, as part of a Department for Transport (DfT) funded campaign to encourage more people to travel without a car in the National Park.

Andrew Wickham, Managing Director of operator morebus, said: ‘We’re very pleased with this recognition from the UK Bus Awards which is one of the most prestigious industry awards in the country.

‘It can take some time to establish a new bus service, but the Beach Bus hit the ground running in its first year with substantial growth this summer. It became so popular that we had to run extra services at the end of the day to take people home from the beach at Lepe.’

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘We’re delighted with this nomination from the UK Bus Awards. The Beach Bus has been very popular with residents and visitors, helping take cars off the road and reduce carbon emissions.

‘We’ve developed an excellent partnership with operators More bus and we’re grateful for the support from local businesses and organisations.’

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 18 November.

For more details about the Beach Bus visit www.thebeachbus.info.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Help locate New Forest forgotten memorials

Brusher Mills Gravestone
The gravestone of ‘Brusher Mills’
in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Brockenhurst.
Long-forgotten gravestones and monuments in burial grounds are set for a new lease of life, and New Forest residents can help by identifying those most in need of conservation.

The National Park Authority is asking people to help locate any churchyards or burial grounds where there are monuments or gravestones that need to be repaired, by filling out a simple online questionnaire.

A minimum of 10 sites will be chosen, based on the number of gravestones in poor condition and the historical significance of any listed monuments.

Volunteers from across the New Forest will be trained to assess the condition of the memorials and record and photograph them, before adding them to an on-line portal. This website will allow anyone undertaking family or social history research anywhere in the world to locate a family memorial.

The project will be led by the New Forest National Park Authority and will form part of the £4.5 million Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme, which will run from 2016 once funding is confirmed.

As well as surveying and conserving monuments and gravestones in need of attention, the project also aims to map all the burial grounds in the New Forest, including recording details of who is responsible for their maintenance. This comprehensive database is being established in the New Forest for the first time, in partnership with New Forest District Council and staff in the Winchester Diocesan Office, in order to prevent more gravestones slipping into a state of disrepair.

Frank Green, New Forest National Park Authority archaeologist, said: ‘Gravestones and monuments in cemeteries are privately owned and are usually erected by family members, so legally they are family heirlooms.

‘This means that it is the family that has responsibility for maintaining the memorials, not the organisations that manage the burial sites. However locating family members responsible for maintaining gravestones that are hundreds of years old is virtually impossible, so this project will help ensure that these memorials, which contain so much social and family history, are kept in good order for future generations.’

If you know of gravestones or monuments in a poor state of repair in your area please fill out the questionnaire at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/memorials.

For more information about this project, including how to volunteer, email archaeology@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

The Landscape Partnership Scheme is led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners including the Beaulieu Estate, Commoners Defence Association, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Natural England, New Forest Centre, and the New Forest Land Advice Service.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

New Forest Volunteer Fair 2015 - Volunteer organisations invited

Matt Pringle at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Matt Pringle volunteering at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Charities and local groups looking to recruit volunteers are invited to register their interest for the New Forest Volunteer Fair 2015.

The annual event at Lyndhurst Community Centre attracts hundreds of people from across Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire, looking to try new skills and enjoy new experiences.

The fair will take place on 31 January next year, when around 30 organisations from in and around the New Forest will attract volunteers for wildlife projects, archaeological surveys and outdoor activities.

One organisation which has benefited recently is Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey, which has attracted the skills of photographer Matt Pringle to improve their portfolio of images for their websites and magazines.

Mr Pringle has also benefited from the experience, helping him to recover from mental and physical health problems after being assaulted at work as a police officer.

He said: ‘Volunteering at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens gives me the opportunity to give something back. It’s helped me gain a sense of achievement, reach attainable goals and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people. The positive nature of the experience has been a real benefit for my mental health too.’

Janet Pratley, Volunteer Co-ordinator at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, said: ‘Matt’s photos have been of the highest quality and he has been a fantastic addition to our team of volunteers. They make such a difference to the gardens, whether it’s by planting and digging, helping customers or other skilled services such as photography. The New Forest Volunteer Fair has been a great place for us to find such wonderful people.’

The Volunteer Fair will take place on Saturday, 31 January, 2015, from 10.30am to 4pm at Lyndhurst Community Centre. If you are from a volunteer organisation which would like to get involved, email jim.mitchell@newforestnpa.gov.uk or call 01590 646681. Spaces are limited.

For more information go to www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/volunteerfair2015