News & Events 2021/2022

17th September Carlisle

I was invited to attend a great launch event of Investors in Cumbria Alliance.  It was good to see so many people and organisations (MP’s, Councils, public sector, private sector) wanting to work with investors in Cumbria to provide a unique support package and help develop impactful plans that will succeed commercially and on a socio-economic basis for our residents and small businesses

This is a great basis for the long term prosperity of incoming investors and our communities.  Thank you for the opportunity and for a successful future.

11th September South Tyneside Railway Preservation Society, Alston

With Kevin on Alston station
Volunteer Signalman Kieran in the Slaggyford signal box

As we left the Eden Valley and gained height the mists thickened and Alston seemed to exist in a world all of its own but the skies cleared and Alston was revealed in its glorious setting.  It was great fun to visit South Tynedale Railway at Alston Railway station.  A real pleasure to meet so many of the volunteers, who work hard to keep the railway open.  We enjoyed the scenery as we travelled at a sedate pace from Alston to Slaggyford and back with Kevin ( Vice Chair).  I even got to throw a lever in the Signal box under the watchful eye of Kieran.  So much reconstruction work has been done so older visitors can enjoy a trip down memory lane and younger ones can experience the joys of this heritage railway.   Meeting the friendly staff at the excellent cafe at Alston station made our coffee taste even better. Thank you.

Back at Alston station we met Andrew who had enjoyed work experience at South Tynedale Railway and is now studying electronic engineering at A level. A young man with real potential who appreciated the opportunity to work with and learn from the experienced volunteers.  Thank you Andrew for a very interesting chat and good luck with your next steps.

Alston Moor Foodbank, AERG

Janice, Ian and Lissie outside the Railway cafe

 Over a lunch in the lovely station cafe we had the opportunity to hear about all the wonderful community support and some of the exciting plans for the future.  Janice, Ian and Lissie are all involved in the community and, along with many volunteers, helped to provide valuable support during COVID. They established a food bank and an emergency response group.  Alston Moor has about 2000 residents and an ethic of looking after each other. Thank you for work to ensure this value is maintained through action for the benefit of all the residents.

ALATI - Alston Landscape Art Town Initiative

It was a pleasure to visit the exhibition organised by Alston Landscape Art Town Initiative held in St Augustine of Canterbury church. A wonderful display of talent by local artists and photographers utilising a wide range of styles and techniques. 

ALATI has been set up to benefit Alston Moor’s residents and visitors.  The initiative aims to stimulate and support development of Alston Moor as a national centre for landscape art and photography, to benefit its economy and environment and to support and encourage local and national artistic endeavour.

They do put on other events and certainly this one was well worth a visit, especially as we were able to meet the exhibitors too. We wish you continuing success.

Art exhibition in the church
chatting with one of the exhibitors

Alston Moor Historical Society

on the tour with Alastair
Traffic restriction for the the Tour of Britain Race

We enjoyed a fascinating walking tour of Alston with Alastair from the Alston Moor Historical Society. What a great way to learn about the long and shifting fortunes of Alston Moor – lead mines, silver, numerous landlords ( including Greenwich Hospital!), mill buildings, defunct chapels. The town has it has real character because it has retained so many of its old buildings, narrow lanes and cobbled streets. If only they could tell the tales of what they had witnessed over the centuries.

Our 90 minute tour wasn’t long enough.  Next time. Thank you Alastair for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with us.

St Augustine of Canterbury Church

Our final meeting of our visit to Alston was back to the church to meet the Vicar and team to hear about their support to the Community during COVID and to see around the Church.

St Augustine’s Church was built in 1869  but records show a church has existed here as long as 1145 AD.  Inside is an interesting 16th Century clock, a  painted altar screen and some lovely stained glass windows.  The Church occupies a central position in the town and is sometimes known as the Cathedral of the North Pennines.

Volunteers stepped in to deliver food, medicines and other essentials to those isolated in the parish due to the pandemic.  Well done and thanks to everyone who responded in the time of need to help others.

Reverend Mark and volunteers

17th September Carlisle

I was invited to attend a great launch event of Investors in Cumbria Alliance.  It was good to see so many people and organisations (MP’s, Councils, public sector, private sector) wanting to work with investors in Cumbria to provide a unique support package and help develop impactful plans that will succeed commercially and on a socio-economic basis for our residents and small businesses

This is a great basis for the long term prosperity of incoming investors and our communities.  Thank you for the opportunity and for a successful future.

8th September Westmoreland County Show, Crooklands

It was a great joy to attend the Westmorland County Show. This is one of Britiain’s oldest and Cumbria’s biggest livestock show. 
Started 222 years ago. This year being held over two days.  Such an important occasion for the agricultural
community.  It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the wonderful setting and enjoying the chance to meet up again, plus being able to partake in the numerous activities and exhibition stands. What a glorious occasion and the sun shone too.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to ensure the show did indeed go on.  


At the Westmoreland County Show

3rd September Newton Rigg Training at Lowther Castle

It was a real delight today to officially open the Newton Rigg Training School of Horticulture at Lowther Castle and Gardens. The NR team led by Shelagh Todd, in partnership with the Lowther Castle garden team, will be starting courses at the end of this month.  What a superb location for any aspiring green fingered learners.

A Phoenix is truly rising out of the tragic demise of Newton Rigg college and now a new and better provison is emerging. In addition to Horticulture the Newton Rigg  Rural Business School has already established courses in advanced dairy management and sheep management. There will be much more to follow.

 A small group of dedicated people have been working hard to get to this stage. This is really an important event to mark the future of land based education in Cumbria and our essential land based economy. Thank you to you all.

In the Castle Courtyard with guests
with the NR Horticultural Tutor Team

1st September Borrowdale Institute, Rosthwaite

The fabulous modernisation and refurbishment of the Borrowdale Institute is now completed.  So many people have worked hard to raise the funds to have the work done to bring this community building up to date.  It has been around for over 100 years already and looks set for the next 100 years to serve the local community and visitors. The main room was adorned in a marquee style for the occasion with a super buffet lunch laid out.  A tour of the building with Lucy, who is the Community Events Manager (and has already booked her own wedding there in 2022) revealed two more rooms, the Community room with new bar/lounge area and main kitchen and upstairs the Herdwick Suite, which now boasts a large balcony providing a superb view.  Many of the people we met told us of cherished memories of events they had attended in the past. We trust that many new memories are set to be made and we were delighted to be able to celebrate this occasion with so many of you. Congratulations to you all in achieving this development along with the Chair Malcolm Stonestreet and the trustees.

On the new balcony with Malcolm (Chair), Nigel (Vice Chair) and Lucy (Commmunity Events Manager)

25th August Copeland Social Prescribing and Wellbeing Festival, Whitehaven

With the Mayor of Whitehaven and some of the contributors

What a great pleasure to visit the Copeland Social Prescribing Wellbeing Festival at Whitehaven Rugby League Club. It was good to see and hear about so many Public and Third sector organisations working together for the benefit of everyone in the community.  It is reassuring to know about the variety of help that is available for the citizens of Copeland.  A well organised event for drop in visitors and a real opportunity for networking and further collaboration between all the providers. 

Well done and thank you to you all

For further information on the organisations at the event please follow my Facebook or Twitter account by clicking on the link at top of this page.

12th August Launch of Better Tomorrows, Whitehaven

With young members of South Whitehaven Youth Partnership

We were delighted to be hosted by Jaqc at South Whitehaven Youth Partnership and some lively young people to launch this initiative.  The club has only been going for a year and worked with over 400 young people and is one example of the need for youth provision in Cumbria. Appropriately it is also International Youth Day.

Better Tomorrows is a three-year programme encouraging people within Cumbria to become accredited in youth work and substantially increase the number of young people having access to support from youth workers to help them reach their full potential.This unique initiative will provide accredited training to more than a hundred people as well as offer grants of up to £25,000 to community organisations setting up or providing new youth work opportunities for local people.

“Many young people have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic and are facing unprecedented challenges caused by interrupted education, uncertainty about the future and anxiety exacerbated by increases in poverty and family ill health. High-quality youth work has a crucial role to play helping many young people to achieve their full potential. Through participation in youth work, young people gain confidence and competence, develop self-assurance, and have the opportunity to establish high expectations and aspirations for themselves. Despite the critical role that youth work plays in a young person’s life, youth work is not a statutory responsibility for local authorities. As money has diminished, funding that previously supported youth workers through qualifications and training has also reduced. There are still areas in Cumbria without any youth provision. That’s why I decided to launch Better Tomorrows.”

Better Tomorrows works in partnership with Cumbria Youth Alliance and local funders Cumbria Community Foundation and Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, who have also invested in the programme. 

Helen Carter, Director at Francis C Scott Charitable Trust, said: “FCSCT believes fundamentally in the positive contribution access to quality youth work has for young people, particularly those who experience challenging circumstances. Better Tomorrow’s is securing the future of quality youth work provision across Cumbria, and we are proud to be a partner in the programme.”

CEO of Cumbria Youth Alliance, Becky Wolstenholme, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be a partner organisation with the Better Tomorrows programme. Building solid platforms by supporting and offering training to vital youth organisations that will be delivering now, more than ever, essential services to enable young people to reach their full potential.”

Better Tomorrows aims to invest at least £900,000 over the next three years into quality youth work training and provision. I have personally committed a significant amount to the programme and secured match funding from national funder, the Four Acre Trust, meaning any additional donations will be matched pound for pound.

John Bothamley CBE, Chairman of Four Acre Trust, said: “Four Acre Trust is pleased to support this great initiative to train and support more youth workers across Cumbria. The future of our country relies on our children; we have a duty to give them all the best start in life and this is why we are offering to match, pound for pound, donations from new donors.”

The programme has been designed to be scalable. The more donations we receive, the more people we’ll be able to support, not just through accredited training, but also quality youth work provision. Donations have also been received from local businesses including LLWR and individual supporters.

Cath Giel, Director of Communications & Stakeholder Relations at LLWR, said: “This targeted initiative to support young people across Cumbria is well-timed to meet a pressing need, given the impact of COVID-19 on our communities. “Better Tomorrows’ will address the shortage in the provision of trained youth workers across the county, equipping a new generation to reach out and support our young people, building a sustainable model that will continue to deliver long after this programme has ended.”

“We’ve never needed youth work more and it’s never been more important to collaborate and align our activities to work with young people. It is so important that we support young people to be ambitious about their future to achieve better tomorrows.”

I am delighted to have received so much encouraging support to date and I am looking to raise a further £200,000 to reach the target. So if you would like to contribute please follow the link below for further info on how to.

with one of the exhibitors
Young people helping to celebrate the launch

10th August West Cumbria Probation Service, Workington

With some of the staff at the Workington office

A largely unnoticed service.  The staff deal with a variety of offenders; preparing pre-sentence reports for the courts, supervising offenders on release and keeping the local community safe, working towards effective rehabilitation and also providing a service for victims. One aspect of their work is to provide supervised and meaningful community service – Pay Back.  The work offenders undertake is varied and often outdoors.  We visited Derwent Park RLFC to see what they had achieved there.  Over several years the railings have all been sanded and re painted, litter collected, overgrown areas weeded and numerous other jobs done to keep the ground and stands in good order.  A volunteer of the club couldn’t praise their contribution highly enough to keep the club going. 

The service is currently undergoing significant and welcome change, which has been quite challenging for all during the past year and the staff are enjoying being back in the office with their colleagues.   Thank you for helping us to learn more about the invaluable work you do.

4th August Gateway 4 Women, Carlisle

Gateway 4 Women are providing a valuable space for women to meet up, chat, get involved in craft activities, access professional support on a range of issues, learn new skills and enjoy a great cuppa.  We enjoyed a very friendly welcome from staff in this lovely bright centre, a very informative chat over delicious coffee and the chance to meet some of the women who were clearly enjoying being able to meet up face to face again.  Gateway 4 Women is networked  with other women’s centres and a variety of agencies in order to provide support in a holistic manner, bringing services into the Centre where possible, as opposed to signposting women out.  A can do attitude pervades the staff’s approach to achieve their aim to encourage, enable and empower women to unlock their potential.  Thank you for such an enjoyable visit to see and hear about the great work you do .

At Gateway with the Centre Manager and the CEO

CADAS, Carlisle

Next stop on our walking tour of several Carlisle based organisations was CADAS (Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service).  They work with individuals and communities to reduce the harm caused by substance use. They have four centres located across Cumbria as well as working
out of local hubs in Allerdale and Copeland and seeing clients in a variety of locations, such as GP surgeries. We were able to meet staff who cover different aspects offered by this service to adults, young people, friends and families, professionals and learn about their training courses. 

The organisation has been steadily growing in size over the last 40 years to meet the demand in Cumbria and volunteers play an important part in providing support in all aspects of their work.  All the volunteers receive excellent training before meeting and or working with clients. 

The staff were all enthusiatsic about the work they do and committed to helping people on their recovery journey as well as others who are affected by someone with a drug and/or alcohol misuse problem.

Thank you for the vital service you offer and helping us to learn more about your work.


With some of the CADAS staff and visitors

Safety Net, Carlisle

Safety Net offers a free service for anyone who has experienced rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse at any time in their lives. They work with people of all ages and backgrounds, children to adults to support their recovery.  They understand that the road to recovery is different for everyone and their specialist trauma-informed team is there to provide support all the way through an individuals journey to recovery. Sadly they have seen an increase in demand for this service. They currently offer telephone, video, email therapy and support, and will resume face-to-face sessions and groups when safe to do so. The head office is in Carlisle but they work across Cumbria and network with other organisations. The staff we met were all highly professional, caring people who work had to provide the essential support for anyone affected by these difficult and impactful issues.  Thank you for allowing us to learn more about your work to help people feel safe and confident again.

in the play therapy room

PiNC, Carlisle

Street wall mural celebrating Pride Cumbria

The external facade Pride in North Cumbria (PiNC) looks just like most of the others on the street, plain stone, but step inside the building and its creatively and colourfully decorated. We met staff and some young people who were engaged in a craft session. PinC offers social and support services to LGBT+ people aged between 13 to 25.  They organise lots of different events, trips and workshops thoroughout the year and provide a safe space to relax, socialise, get help and advice.

We also had the opportunity to talk with a two members of Cumbria Pride . This is a volunteer-led community organisation established in 2009 that seeks to ensure that the LGBT+ community of Cumbria and its supporters are recognised, celebrated and supported through an annual Pride event. The team came together to bring ‘Pride’ to Cumbria, to show that this is not just something for big cities but also for rural areas and the small towns.  This event is often seen as a celebration, a party , which it is but its also a reminder of the challenges LGBT+ people have faced to be able to be who they are without discrimination.

Thank you for inviting us to visit, meet staff, volunteers and young people and learn more about what you do which is so important.  Wishing you sunshine for the next Pride on 25th Sept at Carlisle Castle.

Carlisle Eden Mind

In the Lighthouse meeting room

Carlisle Eden Mind is a charity offering a range of services for people who are experiencing a mental health/wellbeing issue.  We met staff in the calm, comfortable Lighthouse room.  This is a safe space used by people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and can be accessed by appointment all year round from 6 – 11pm and just one of the options on offer.   With increased connectivity they are now able to use a web-based platform and can offer support across the county. For example, Mindline provides infomation and guidance on a range of mental health issues and accessed by phone or their website. Mental Health and wellbeing is a very current issue for increasing numbers of people ( 1 in 4 ).  Carlisle Eden Mind recognise that support comes in many forms and offer a range of services; from one to one, peer support or getting involved in physical exercise sessions. Their services are provided to reflect what the community needs and they consult widely to ensure this is the case.  Like all charities volunteers are vitally important and welcome and they can’t operate effectively without them.

Thank you for a highly informative visit.  Wshing you and all who work with you continuing success.

31st July Cross Bay Walk

Out on the sands

An overcast but great day for the guided walk across the sands of Morecambe Bay from Arnside to Kents Bank. This is a  walk we have been wanting to do but somehow something always got in the way.  So thanks to Julie Barton HS 20/21 for organising this and helping to raise money for Cumbria Community Foundation.  It should have happened last year but like so many events it was postponed. Julie’s “posse” of about 200 people and another 300 on a charity fundraiser waited with some trepidation for the Queens Guide to the Sands, Michael Wilson, to lead the way.  The sands are notorious for fast flowing tides and quicksands – so a guide is essential.   Once clear of the foreshore and onto the sand walking with such a large number of people didn’t feel at all restrictive. The sky was vast and looking back the scene felt almost biblical.  We waded across two sizable channels, ate lunch standing up, chatted to so many friends and 7 miles later put our shoes back on as we clambered up the bank onto terra firma. A really good day out.  Thank you to Julie for her persistence and enthusiasm; to Michael and the team of volunteers who annually safely enable thousands of people to do this walk and raise funds for valuable causes.


High Sheriffs past and present

16th July Maryport and Solway Sea Cadets

Sea Cadets having just finished a water confidence session

As we stepped across the threshold of the Sea Cadets building we were invited by Mark, the Chair to take a tour of  the “ship” or correctly the TS Caesar.  28 Cadets attend training here and we were shown the haul of trophies and awards they have won over the years at national level.  We heard from Mark about plans to upgrade the building and maintain the long tradition of an excellent and successful Sea Cadet Unit.   Each Cadet Unit is run as an independent charity under the umbrella Sea Cadets organisation. Any 10 – 18 year old can join and they pay a small weekly fee.  Once a cadet has progressed from junior to senior status they can choose to learn about an array of skills, for example engineering or navigation.  Sea Cadets aren’t purely about recruiting for the Royal Navy, of course some Cadets do join up, but like any well run youth organisation it’s about aquiring life skills and developing into competent adults in a safe and challenging environment.

We went to the marina to observe a water confidence session.  Some of the cadets were new starters and the session, led by qualified volunteers, emphasised using the safety equipment, looking after each other, trying canoes and paddleboards and having fun.  It was good to see some of the instructors were former cadets who were putting their experience and qualifications to good use.   What a great opportunity this gives young people to develop resilience, self- belief and social confidence and what an excellent base to have by the sea. Thank you to all the volunteers for keeping this unit going.

15th July Crosby Ravensworth Parish Tree Group

Following concerns that a number of trees had been lost through clearance and others to disease — notably ash die-back – and that older trees with a limited life would need replacement, the Crosby Ravensworth Parish Tree Group was created. The volunteers work with the local farmers to see what and where they can help out to plant trees, enhance the environment and make sure there are trees for future generations. This may be filling in a hedgeline, establishing shade trees or creating small stands of native trees.  4000 trees and 8000 hedge whips planted to date. They want to plant a small wood next.  It just shows what a group of committed people can achieve. We enjoyed an excellent walk with David and Drew in fabulous weather to see some of their work.  What a resourceful community and beautiful landscape.

Learning more about the tree planting at Crosby Ravensworth

Oaklea Trust and Right 2 Work, Appleby

Grown at the Hub and some flowers used by the chef
Afternoon treat

Honestly we weren’t lured here by the promise of tea and scones – but we really enjoyed them and of course importantly the opportunity to hear about this great project and see the building.  The inviting entrance has a wonderful, creative floral display and the main hall and wholefood cafe is equally wonderfully decorated.  The Oaklea Trust was invited to take on the building after it was sitting empty.  They have turned into a real community Hub with cafe, meeting rooms and work spaces for hire, Appleby Rotary second hand bookshop, and craft items for sale. Several different groups and classes meet at the Hub as well as a youth club.  Right2Work is based around 3 key elements Community, Learning and Wellbeing.  They have a range of activities and opportunities to help people gain skills and qualifications and to find work.  What a super resource for the people of Appleby and surrounds and much needed help with gaining work in a largely rural area.  Thank you to Sue and Sarah and other members of staff. We really didn’t get to hear all that is going on at the Hub. It is a super place and with a creative approach and care for all of their customers.

Some of the visiting group with some of the Hub staff team

Appleby Emergency Response Group

AERG was formed after the flooding in 2015 and 2016 and is now a registered charity.Their purpose is to assist the community to prepare, respond and recover from an emergency. Like most of us they thought their main focus would be around flooding and the aftermath, but they have been very busy responding to the communities needs around the C-19 pandemic.  They have one part time employee who coordinates the strategy and planning and ensures the volunteers are rehearsed and ready. As well as communicating to  the residents of Appleby about what to do if action is needed. They work closely with the blue light services to create the most effective response in an emergency situation.   It’s so difficult to imagine the chaos and grief a flood can bring when you visit on a beautiful summer evening with low water levels in the river. Hoping you don’t have to put your expertise into practice but you are well prepared. Thank you to the committee and volunteers for all the work you do so willingly.

AERG committee and volunteers by the River Eden in Appleby

14th July Cumbria Family Support, Penrith

We put an arm around people – that’s the driving ambition of this charity.  So often people can only access help when there is a crisis.  This charity aims to get support to families as early as possible.  This small staff team with the help of trained volunteers have quite a reach. They offer support across Eden and Allerdale and Carlisle.  They recognise the importance of multi agency working and have strong links across the area to ensure the families get the right support.  The charity was established in 1993 by volunteers to befriend people in need. They are now able to deal with greater complexity and have employed professional staff to enhance their offer. Children are at the heart of what they do. They help families by providing practical and emotional support to reduce isolation and health inequalities and overcome issues or challenges they may be facing. It may be as simple as walking children to school because parents have some disability or it may be helping to understanding the outcomes of a professional meeting.   By helping with many everyday tasks that most of us take in our stride they enable people to gain confidence and independence and the support is available for as long as is needed, sometimes years.  Thank you for sharing about the invaluable befriending work you do.

With the CEO, Chair and member of staff and placement student at

Triple A Project ( All about Autism)

Greeted warmly by 3 volunteers and peer mentors, Harry, Kane and Kathryn, we had a very informative presentation from Karen, Chair about Triple A now and future plans. Only established in 2016 their offer is peer led by people with autism. They offer a progression route starting with a Navigator Programme, Positive Pals, and Discovery Panels which focus making new friednships and navigating lifes challenges.             

They want to tackle employment for people with autism.  There are an estimated 5,353 individuals with autism in Cumbria, 88% unemployment and individuals who want to work. There is so much misunderstanding about autism and very often employers lack knowledge to be able to engage people with autism in the workplace.  The largest misconception is everyone with autism demonstrates the same behaviour.  This is really untrue.  Each person is an individual and so is their behaviour and ability, just like anybody.  They are also the only organisation offering Duke of Edinburgh to people with autism.  Thank you Mark for telling us about work you are doing with DofE. 

Our visit finished all too quickly with a frank and lively chat with the peer mentors.  What a super charity.  We look forward to hearing about your next steps.

In the Triple A office, Penrith

Penrith Cricket, Sports and Social Club

A perfect evening for net practice.  What a good setting Penrith Cricket Club has.  Mark and Jan, two volunteer coaches told us about the 5 junior teams and their training schedule.  Tim, President and Tim, Committee member were also on hand for more information about the club which is has been at Tynefield Park since 1907. All clubs have to move with the times and they have refurbished the score board, screen and artificial wicket for Junior practice and now looking to replace the fixed practice nets.  They have a good working relationship with Ullswater School, who share the nets and help with the grounds.  The school also has an adjoining field so the club can have a senior and junior match at the same time.  It was good to see a mixed group practising and they and the ECB are emphasing getting more women into cricket.   So much voluntary effort and commitment goes into keeping the club running and provide the opportunity for young people to get involved in cricket.  All the best for the next 100+ years.

Cumbrian Federation of Young Farmers Clubs

With CEO and elected officials of CYF

Thank you for a great presentation about Cumbria Young Farmers and the challenges of last year for members without being able to hold the usual field days and face to face events. Cumbria is divided into Northern (Longtown to Drigg) and Southern (Broughton to Eden Valley) Districts with 25 clubs overall.  We heard from representatives of both Districts and the Club President and the CEO.  YFC is open to any young person from farming on non-farming backgrounds 10 – 28 years old and runs age appropriate activities. As a former Young Farmer myself, not only was it a bit of a nostalgic evening, but a great reminder of the friendships, skills and opportunites that belonging to a YF club brings.    YF raise money for charity and in 2019/21 they raised £50,000.  They have events at local and national level and have been the best county 7 out of the last 9 years nationally.

Cumbria usually has about 1600 members, this had tailed off a bit during Covid but the various committees are full of ideas and enthusiasm to get the numbers back up again. It is a fabulous way for young people to connect with others as well as give to their communities. They are particular aware of the rurality of Cumbria and the potential for isolation so they have organised training and education events around these issues.  

It was really good to hear and see the energy and ideas to get the all the clubs back to face to face meetings. Thank you for continuing to contribute to the well being of Cumbria.

Thank you to Penrith Cricket Club for providing the meeting room.

10th July Cumbria Round Table AGM, Workington

Meeting held in a brewery

A lively AGM meeting of the Cumbria Round Table was held at the Tractor Shed Brewery. The quality beer no doubt added to the convivial atmosphere and debate! It was encouraging to hear of the good work being done by groups across the county. Round Tables are a club for men aged 18-45 with a desire to make new friends and serve their community.  Members from Cockermouth, Maryport, Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside & District Round Tables were all there having a fun evening as they reviewed the year and planned future events.

Thank you for the opportunity to meet you all and hear about the beneficial things Round Tables get up to.

9th July Together We Workington

Together We’s mission is about  ‘Empowering people to take control over their physical health, mental health and wellbeing’  They are able to offer people  in Allerdale and Copeland a range of services including talking techniques and physical health interventions to help them on their own recovery journey.  There has been a substantial  increase in numbers of service users and the Together Staff and volunteers are working hard to support everyone who contacts them.  Janine and Sam, the two MDs, are in the process of broadening the offer and want to make sure everyone who needs their service can access it.  We heard from staff, volunteers, trainees and service users and we even got a taster session of a fitness class.   One former service user spoke highly of them and the positive difference it has made to his life – ” You’ll never be lonely with Together “. Every client is treated as unique and they can access as much of the range of services as they need . They have also established a recovery college providing peer support.  

 Thank you for such an informative visit and every success as you continue to grow this valuable service. 


Being put through my paces in the gym


We started our visit outdoors so we could see the newly acquired mobile unit.  This is being used to promote the activities and services of Age UK West Cumbria and the Back from Beyond Veterans Project.  Chatting to the group of veteran about how its great to be able to meet together again. Mark, one of the two new veterans’ connectors told us more about the project to help isolated and vulnerable older veterans and also their carers and family. Help ranges from advice and one to one support, to connecting people into activity and friendship groups, like walking football and breakfast groups. We head from them. A whistle stop tour of the building – the donated goods, the enthusiastic stores manager who is so excited about all things Vint-age for the charities shops,  the display space for daily living aids in the Bradbury Independent Living Centre, the drop in club room, and the brightly decorated upstairs meeting room and offices. Chatting to Jane, CEO over lunch we heard about the numerous activities and support they provide on a range of issues, including; benefits, heating and bills, daily living aids, social isolation and housing.  Wow so much going on and the whole team of staff and volunteers are encouraged to contribute ideas for future developments.   They defnitely have a collective can-do attitude and lots of energy. 

Thank you for the work you are doing to help support our senior citizens.

Inside with some proud veterans
Jane showing creative and fun use of the office space

The Freedom Project, West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support

In West Cumbria rates of domestic abuse are 5% above the national average and referrals to this service are increasing. They offer free long term community based support by providing advice, information, guidance , one -to- one and peer group mentoring. The support is designed to bring about  lasting positive changes in people’s lives enabling a future free of the trauma of abuse. They work with the survivors, family members, children and perpetrators, trying to break the cycle and patterns of behaviour.  

The, compassion and commitment to make a difference was palpable.  We heard from a variety of people including staff, people currently in receipt of support and  volunteers (many have been clients previously and they dearly want to help others). Considering the suffering that the women we met have either personally experienced or heard from those that have, the women present demonstrated genuine warmth, confidence and hope.

Thanks to Susan for the marvellous cakes and cuppa.  Thank you to all of you for sharing your stories and providing such valuable support.

Staff and volunteers

Workington Transport Heritage Trust

Trust members and one of their lovely old buses

We were driven in this lovely old bus circa 1960 to the depot where there are more coaches and buses.  Some of these are used for hire ie weddings or rail replacement services which brings income into the Trust to help with the upkeep.  Since its formation in 1997, the Trust and its members have developed their collection of locally important buses, fire appliances and other vehicles. Currently housed at two sites, the vehicles are used at a variety of community events and shows. One bus is fitted out as an educational and display space. This band of enthusiasts are helping to preserve some fine examples of buses that were either  built by Leyland in Workington or operated by Cumberland Motor Services and Stagecoach.

Thank you for a trip down memory lane – we even got to sit on the back seat!

Distington Club for Young People

Christine, volunteers and some of the many young people who use the club

Since 1947 there has been a youth club here at Distington. It started as a club for boys and is now a lively and active club for all young people. This evening Christine, the Youth Development Officer and her team of adult and junior volunteers had set the group the task of coming up with a list of activities to do doing during the summer holidays.  They certainly weren’t short of ideas. The club has good outdoor space including a hard surfaced area for games including football, basketball and skate ramps.  They run a variety of activities on every weekday night and open during the daytime in the school holidays. They  would like to further develop the garden and grass areas.  What a great resource for the young people of Distington. Thank you for our visit.

8th July Millom and Haverigg

With Blue Badge guide Tom
With Annie and just one of the heavy horses
We started our tour with an introduction to the area and all that it has to offer, history, lovely countryside and harbour, things to do by going on a tour with the excellent and enthusiastic local blue badge accredited guide Tom McCafferty. This included a visit to the Cumbrian Heavy Horses at Baystone Bank Farm. Thank you Annie for your enthusiasm for these marvellous horses. We really could have spent the whole day with Tom – we only scratched the surface of whats on offer here and whetted our appetites for future visits.

Millom Network Centre

 A great visit to the fairly recently re located Millom Network Centre. This is an important community asset for Millom which is being expanded and developed under Angela’s passionate leadership with the support of some fantastic volunteers. A tour of the premises and the all the activity that is happening and  plans for the future
We met several members of the award-winning  Millom STEM club whichhas its base their. The success the young people have achieved over the years is a tribute to them and their volunteer leaders. We enjoyed meeting two of the young members and hear how enjoyable and valuable the experience and learning at the club is for them. 
Keep up the good work. 

Around the Combe Community Group

With part of the new playpark.
It was a pleasure to meet Jennifer Jakubowski from Around the Combe Community Group and hear of the fabulous work they have been doing supporting and campaigning for the community including a lot of excellent support during the pandemic. Pride of place is the newly refurbished and  play area in the park.  It only opened 4 weeks ago and is already being well used. It looked a very exciting, high quality and imaginative resource.  Congratulations to everyone who have made this a reality. 

The Beggar's Theatre

The little Beggar's with Jakki and Peter

We were taken aback by the interior of the theatre. It is so much bigger than than we were expecting. The unstoppable Jakki has transformed this old night club into a wonderful theatre space and vibrant community asset over the last few years.  It hosts some amazing performers and events. Local actor Peter MacQueen was setting up for a performance this evening.  Meanwhile  the Little Beggars group were very active exploring the use of masks in drama and all clearly enjoying taking part in the session. What a joy to visit Moore Arts at the Beggars Theatre. The name derives form having to make the place work with a limited income and the goodwill of offers of help and resources.   We wish Jakki and the volunteers continuing success for the great work they are doing to help young people gain skills and confidence and with getting even more great names from the world of comedy and quality theatre to this area.

Millom Junior Football Club

We visited Millom Jr Football Club training at the Millom Rugby Union grounds. .  The club has the core value of accepting players of all abilities and it was so good to see so many youngsters outside having fun and working hard to develop their skills.  Volunteers are vital to make this all happen. There are currently about 170  junior members and 13 teams across the junior age groups. Thank you Tracey for taking time to show us the set up for this vibrant club.
Millom Rugby league juniors were also training at the RUFC ground because their own pitch is currently undergoing maintenance.  It really is good to see collaboration between the clubs.
Some of the juniors in training

Cricket Club

Our final visit of the day was to visit Millom Cricket Club. A junior game was underway when we arrived. For this age group it is so important that they enjoy active participation in a match and junior rules enable this to happen.  The new nets facility (well they are actually a year old but didn’t get any use last season) was being well used under the guidance of the professional Sri Lankan Coach. What a difference the nets have made to training and raising skill levels. Even on a cool weekday evening there were quite a number of spectators and the club house was doing steady trade. 

There is a great variety of sport on offer for the young people of the area. Well done to all of the volunteers for making so much sport available. 

At the training nets with the fundraiser and the the club chair

7th July Every Life Matters , Shap

in the training room at Every Life Matters, Shap
Every Life Matters (ELM)  based in Shap promotes Suicide Safer Communities and provides Suicide Bereavement Support across Cumbria. Sadly this is a much needed service evidenced by the increased number of deaths in Cumbria from suicide during this last year.  This charity was started by Chris with the goal of substantially reducing the suicide rate in Cumbria by helping to promote awareness about suicide by providing training,  awareness raising and mutli agency collaboration. 
ELM has been working with a number of organisations including the police in West Cumbria which provide suicide bereavement support for all ages. We were able to have a virtual meeting (zoom) with them.  It was heartening to hear about their collaborative approach to ensure that the best possible service is provided to families and friends using the different skills of each of the organisations.
Juliet, Training Manager explained about the one hour bitesize FREE awareness sessions which are aimed at anyone in the community
who wants to learn more about the myths and facts surrounding suicide, understand when someone might be at risk, how to talk directly and
comfortably about suicide, and what we can all do to offer practical support. They have also produced some excellent resources to help with the issues around suicide and bereavement.
A huge thank you to everyone we met today and for the valuable work you do.

The Farmer Network Ltd and Thrimby Hall Farm visit

Beautiful day at Thrimby Hall Farm

The Farmer Network is a not for profit organisation solely developed to help, support and guide farmers by providing services and benefits thoughout Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales. Adam, MD and Kate, a Project Manager organised this visit to Matthew and Dani Blairs’ farm so we could hear first hand about farming life and the some of the current challenges in the uncertain climate.  We also met some past students of the Farming Ambition – Business Support for Young People training course. Murray a shepherd, Holly a young farmer and farm advisor and Rachel who does a variety of farm work alongside being a physiotherapist talked about the value of getting more understanding about the business side of farming which is so important for their futures in farming. An excellent day to have a walk and talk on the farm.  Thank you very much for this opportunity and the very best to you all.

5th July Herdwick School, Racy Ghyll Farm, Penruddock

Kingfisher Class from Langwathby C of E Primary School

What a joy to join Kingfisher class from Langwathby C of E Primary School on an annual visit to the Herwick School at the Rebanks Racy Farm.  They started the day with a tour of the farm to see what is new since their last visit –  the altered stream course, the ponds and the bee hives being of especial interest. Their visits are planned to experience the seasonal changes in the environment and on the farm. They all set off and reached the top of Gt Mell Fell – a real achievement for these young pupils as many had never walked up a fell before. Lunch in the barn followed by a lively exchange about the role of High Sheriff.  Well done everyone for a very successful day of learning outdoors. Thank you to Helen Rebanks for their guided tour of the farm and to the teachers and adult volunteers who help make such invaluable visits possible.

Cockermouth WI

A zoom meeting this evening with members of the WI to talk about the office of the High Sheriff, the history and to describe the day to day role and introduce some of the many charities we have visited.  Cumbria is associated by many people with holidays, fells, lakes and rain but sadly the reality for many Cumbrians is much harsher. I feel very privileged to be able to share the stories about the fantastic work so many people do in our county because they care. Thank you for this opportunity.

The glamour of a zoom meeting

3rd July Cockermouth Live 2021

Opening address and Cockermouth Mechanics Brass Band
Wild Chorus

What a delight to be asked to open this family friendly festival of music, inspiration and fun in my home town of Cockermouth.  Like many events organisers this year has been full of stop go decision making and angst.  Bob and the small team decided more than ever this year it was important to go ahead.  The programme of events wasn’t as full as normal but still with lots of variety ie bands, guitarists, poetry, theatre, comedy . Starting with a few words of welcome to the audience in the United Reform Church before the programme there got underway.  I  headed next  to offcially open the event in the grounds of the castle as the clouds darkened. Thanks to Lord and Lady Egremont for the use of the castle grounds. Such an atmospheric outdoor performance setting.   Undeterred the Cockermouth Mechanics Brass Band performed with gusto the first half of their programme before heavy rain stopped play!  Wild Chorus, a choir which regularly sing outdoors, stepped into the breach.  With no instruments other than their vocal chords to get wet they treated the assembled crowd to a very cheerful set of songs.  A High Sheriffs’ velvet court dress doesn’t fare too well in the wet – so I donned my cape and boots and headed off to address the Kirkgate audience.  Serving hot and cold drinks inside this venue was popular.  The  newly revamped downstairs room looked great. It was fabulous to hear and see live entertainment again.  Lots of people out in support and the rain eased off.   We stopped to watch Professor Pumpernickel entertaining a group of children (and adults) with his explosive street theatre science show.  Evening events including Kathryn Tickell Trio were sold out.    A huge Thank You to the organising team and congratulations on another successful festival.   If you missed it this year or are inspired to volunteer check out the web link or contact any of the organisers.

In the refurbished room at the Kirkgate Centre
Wall hanging at the Kirkgate by Cockermouth U3A Quilters

30th June Citizens in Policing Team Kendal

Police Cadets
Two of the staff from the Citizens in Policing Team

It was great to be invited to meet the Citizens in Policing team and some Police Cadets from across the County. An informative  presentation about the work this team does and the important role volunteers play to help with policing.  The role of the volunteer is developing continuously at Cumbria Constabulary – with increasing opportunities to work either on the front-line or in vital support service teams. Five older Cadets, from each of the places Cadet training is held- Kendal, Barrow, Workington, Penrith and Carlisle, told us about the challenges and highlights of their time in the Cadets. Police Cadets are in the 13 – 17 age group but there is also a mini police scheme for 9 – 11 year olds operating in about 30 Cumbrian schools.  The Cadets and Mini police aim to provide young people with a positive view of policing and help develop qulaities and skills for whatever direction they take in adult life.  Its not a police recruitment drive. One highlight was the experiences on their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme expedition and how their confidence has developed. The Cadet scheme offers a structured and varied programme of learning much of it experiential.  Whatever these young people choose to do as careers it is clear they have benefited from their time in Cadets. Well done to you all.

29th June Love Barrow Families, Barrow

HS and CCF visitors with some of the families who came to meet us

 “to create magic dust and leave it behind wherever we go“! What a fabulous mission statement.  Love Barrow `Families is the result of local families and agencies working together to achieve better outcomes using an intergrated approach. Sitting outside in the courtyard with a cuppa and lunch was just the best way to meet and chat with some of the families and volunteers.  Alison and Dean explained they all get stuck into whatever is helping to make this area a better place to live, whether its litter picking, creating a community garden or simply being available for a chat. Their growing work with families & communities in Barrow is truly wonderful.  Together they are making a real difference.   Love Barrow Families are progressively setting up more communities across Barrow and spreading even more magic dust!!!

Barrow Domestic Appliances

 Our visit happened at an exciting point of development for this charity. They are in the process of moving out of the old premises into a newer larger one with great plans for a showroom, more storage and workshop area.  The purpose is to seek to re-use electrical appliances for the benefit of the local community and to reduce landfill. Donated or unwanted items are collected free and then checked over, serviced and if possible repaired ready for resale at an affordable price.  The work is  carried out by a qualified engineer with volunteers who get valuable work experience. Thank you Paul (CEO) and Graham (Company Secretary) for our visit and we wish all the best for the move – so much possibility and so many parts to move to make it a reality.

An engineer in the workshop
In front of the new premises

The Well, Barrow

Its hard to describe the impact of a visit to The Well without resorting to cliches. It saves lives. This inspiring project established by Dave provides drug and alcohol addiction support in Barrow, Fleetwood, Lancaster, Kendal, Morecambe.  Services include day-hab,12-step programme, mutual aid, peer mentoring, employment skills, sports and social activities. Some of this is face to face and some done over internet sessions which has expanded their reach.   The importance of a supportive, non judgemental community culture is vital to helping each individual break their own addiction.  We were fortunate to meet and hear from a significant number of people who were either in rehab or clean. Importantly supported accommodation is available during the recovery journey which enables mutual support.  What a courageous group of people who have had to face up to themselves to overcome their particular demons. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and the very best to you all on your journeys.
Next Door is Well Fed one of two social enterprises – Well Fed, a catering
business and Maintained Well, a repairs and maintenance business.  An ambition of The Well is to create meaningful employment.
Hosted by founder Dave, Kerrie (MBE!!!) and Ged it was good to hear you are continuing to expand support across Cumbria and Lancashire.
HS, CCF visitors and Ged outside the store
Inside the store with Dave

Women's Community Matters, Nan Tait Centre, Barrow

with Rachael, Rebecca and the Kickstarters

The Women’s Community Matters in Barrow is to be found in the impressive Nan Tait building.  A 1900’s terracotta and redbrick listed building.  Greeted by two Kickstart employees, Abbi and Esther we had a guided tour of the building and their work from Rachael, the Centre Manager. The charity is run by women for women and offers a wide range of courses, support groups, activities and appointments in a safe space. The aim is to support women with anything they may need help with including benefits, housing, domestic or sexual abuse, the police, courts, prison, mental wellbeing, employment, education and social activities.

Their motto “With love, care, compassion and kindness we will change the world”  was needed even more during the Covid lockdowns and they worked non – stop during this time as, sadly, many more women found their personal circumstances exacerbated.   Because its not always just the women that are effected by some of the issues but whole families they do have a boys/young men facilitated group in a separate part of the building.

Thank you, the trustees and volunteers for all the work you do to help women feel safe and more confident.

Leonard Cheshire Youthability, Walney Island

As we drove over the bridge to Walney Island the sun was shining and we could see the sea sparkling in the distance as we approached the Community Hall and Youthability.  Greeted by Les, Team Leader, he explained that Leonard Cheshire would no longer be supporting Youthabiity from the end of July.  He could have accepted that but instead he rapdily mobiised support, got the paper work submitted to create a charity, found the trustees and this essential inclusive service for young people with a disability will be continuing. This shows real committment and belief in the work.  The young people come from a wide area as there isn’t really any other equivalent provision in the Furness area.  
The Community Hall is well used by many other groups as well.  They have a very sizable sports hall, meeting room, games room and kitchen and a recently cleared large outdoor area, which is starting to have a makeover.   Les and the team have lots of ideas to develop the Hall inside and out
We arrived at the start if an England football match but that didn’t stop Bernadette presenting me with one of her very own paintings. A lovley suprise Thank you for your kind gift.  Its now on display at home.
It was great to see the work being done, the young people clearly enjoying themselves, meet staff and volunteers and know that Les has secured the with the support of the community secured the future for this invaluable space. 
Outside the Community Hall
Bernadette presenting me with her painiting
Thank you for your gift to me

22nd June Project John, Barrow

Along with four members of the CCF Grant Panels we enjoyed meeting staff and volunteers at Project John. Greeted with a friendly smile and a cuppa its easy to see how this space provides the much needed support for so many young people. Regaled with the story of aquiring and transforming this building into a bright, modern and useful facility is testament to the vision and energy of all those involved, especially Nicola the Project Manager and “John” a young man who dreamt of such a place but sadly never actually lived to see it realised. 

Project John is a supported housing project for young people aged 16-24 years. It provides accommodation, training and support. They offer the helping hand when its neeeded and many of the young people continue to drop in and stay in touch long after they have aquired the skills and confidence to enjoy an independent lifestyle.  Thank you for our excellent lunch and uplifting conversation about the differences the work and dedication is making.  An inspirational visit.


Brathay Trust, Barrow Office

 Co-located at Project John the Brathay Trust staff explained how they are working in collaboration with other organisations in the area to provide support and development opportunities for young people who are facing challenges. They focus on 13-16 year olds and youth offending prevention. Sarah, who leads the project in Barrow, can also access the Trusts facilities and resources at Ambleside to complement the work they do locally. It is great to hear about the emphasis on collaborative working and generating better outcomes and effective use of resources. Welll done.

With some of the staff team at Project John
With some of the Brathay Trust team

Bram Longstaffe Nursery, Barrow

Dave, Jackie and Jo provided the guided tour and of this bright and cared for building.  The outdoor spaces were imaginatively developed and the pupils are clearly encouraged to play and learn out of doors.  The nursery isn’t only for the young there is a well used community room, which local adults come to for training and support. In fact the centre is undergoing a transformation in to a Community Hub and is now run as a Charity. The highly energetic Dave along with Jackie the Chair painted a vision of a hugely important one-stop shop for guidance and support for residents of Barrow island.  Wishing you every success.

With Friends of Bram
Dave explaining the outdoor space at the nursery

Walney Community Trust, Walney Island

Spring Mount Community Hall has been a food hub and support centre over the past year in response to the local needs due to Covid. The hall is a simple but provided the necessary space to respond to the demand.  Ros, Centre Manager and Shirley, Trustee and volunteer explained how they had to learn and adapt fast to cope.  They quickly realised that food ingredients weren’t always all that was needed, sometimes it was a kettle or a microwave too.  As the urgency diminishes the Trust is reviewing what they have learnt and what is now needed for the community.

A vibrant Youth Club runs from this building too.  Alysha (senior youth worker), operates a drop in place as well as directed sessions and working in schools.  We were proudly shown the results of one the initiatives by two of the young members – they have been shown how to grow vegetables and are keenly tending the plants to maturity so they can get on with cooking them.  Young people need good youth clubs , thank you for showing us this one.

Alysha and two of the youth club members
Inside the Community Hall
Display of outcomes from one of the directed youth work sessions

15th June Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Foulshaw Moss, Grange over Sands

We saw them, the Opsreys at Foulshaw Moss.  This is the draw card for so many people in person and on the webcam but as we learnt the birds are more common than the habitat. Lowland raised mires like Foulshaw Moss are one of Western Europe’s rarest and most threatened habitats. Around 94% of this unique habitat has been destroyed or damaged in the UK, so these remaining areas are incredibly important for a range of wildlife. We enjoyed fabulous weather and expert knowledge from Paul, Nature Reserve Officer, David, Conservation Manager and Hazel, Senior Fundraising Officer. A group of local school children from Dean Barwick Primary were eagerly recording their sightings of dragonflies with guidance from Danni. Its always good to see children being actively encouraged to learn outside the classroom.  The board walks give easy access to this special habitat to see the wildlife and the habitat restoration work that the Wildlife Trust and the volunteers are doing.    Thank you for such an informative and enjoyable outing to learn and see more of this precious area of peat bog.


Pupils from Dean Barwick enjoying Learning Outside The Classroom
Board walk at Foulshaw Moss

National Trust, Boon Crag, Coniston

Next stop and more to see and learn about a different Cumbrian habitat.  We went with Simon, the Ranger for Coniston and Little Langdale and Ross, Fundraising, on to higher ground to view the improvement work going on. Working with the tenant farmers to look after the long term viability of the land and nature is key to the success of the Trust’s strategy for the landscape. There are so many factors to take into consideration and balance to care for the environment and the various land users. Timber for the new tree cages is sourced locally from National Trust woodland, it is untreated and will naturally biodegrade but it does take more work and cost to erect than using plastic grow tubes. This is just one example of how the NT and the farmers are tackling land management with a creative and environmentally conscious approach to ensure a sustainable future for all.  We enjoyed some thought provoking conversations and the fabulous views over Coniston.


New tree cages about Coniston
Remedial work on old drainage ditches

Lake District Mobility, Langdale Estate, Langdale

What a great way to complete todays visits.  We started at  the Langdale Estate which hosts two Tramper Mobility Scooters for hire at very very low cost.  A quick lesson on how to drive one and we were ready to explore.  Ilse set off and I followed on the trail to Skelwith Bridge.  The vehicles are easy to use, felt very robust and secure. It was easy for others in our party to walk alongside to chat with the drivers, making it a very sociable form of transport.

The germ of the idea came to the founder Julia out of a conversation with her grandfather who wanted to get up in the mountains one more time. She has worked so hard to grow the idea that ‘Anyone with limited mobility should have access to the outdoors’ into reality.   This charity is still in its infancy but with ambition to grow the provision.  It is also linked to other Countryside Mobility sites. So do have a look at the website to find out more about access to this great resource. 

Thank you to Julia, Penny (Fundraising) and Ilse for an enjoyable and fun outing. Here’s to more journeys in the wonderful outdoors.

Trying out one of the Tramper mobility scooters
Taking a break to admire the view

11th June WADAA at Castlehead Tarn, Grange over Sands

Another inspirational day. Lovely weather and three great projects to see. 

First stop a fishing lake. Run by WADAA angling association.  Nick, Director, took us on a tour and explained all the devoplements to make this an accessible venue. Though off grid a few solar panels provide power for the oxygenator and lighting for the composting toilet. A group from Dallam School were learning about fishing and the environment.  Great excitement when an eel was caught by one of the pupils – his first ever catch of anything and what a rare catch too. This project is still being developed and WADAA would love to hear from more community groups about using it.  So beneficial for people to be able to enjoy an outdoor activity. Thank you for the invite.


Chatting to one of the puplis from Dallam School

The Bee Team at Heron Hill Primary, Kendal

Greeted by some of the Bee Team pupils after school. They were so knowledgable about all matters on apiary and very keen to show us their site and explain why looking after bees matters so much. Their bee suits were aptably embroidered with Sheriff badges  ( we felt very honoured – it just happens to be the name of the company which makes the suits!)  Jacqui and Karen the two inspirational adults who run the project want this project to bee ( apologies bee puns and all things bee related adorn their hut) for the community as well as benefiting the school.  So much valuable and  great education is happening through this project. Finn, is a great example of what can be achieved. He is progressing through his apprenticeship and helps to manage and run the project too.  Hats off to all involved, Jaqui for getting the project off the ground and the school for getting behind the opportunity and of course to all the pupils who are doing the bee keeping as they learn, acquire skills and qualifications.

Bee club with their Bee-utiful hut

Highlights Rural Touring Scheme, Troutbeck Instute

A balmy summer evening – an outdoor bar, people enjoying the chance to meet face to face and be in a real audience.  Highlights Rural Touring Scheme connects over 65 venues, an army of volunteer promoters and an ever-growing list of artists. Together, they bring great arts and unmissable culture to rural areas, lighting up village halls, schools and community centres with music, dance, theatre and storytelling. We watched a one man show “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists”.  A challenging book to reduce to a two hour performance but we were kept entertained and informed throughout. Really importnat to make the arts available to a largely rural county.

Catching with a promoter and an organiser
The Stage

8th June Carer Support South Lakes Kendal

A great pleasure to be involved today in the official opening of the new offices for Carers South Lakes in Kendal. They do a fantastic job caring for carers. With so many adult and young carers in the area their role is absolutely vital and much appreciated. Good luck in expanding the support to reach more of the amazing carers in your area.

3rd June Elite Stars & Chance Camp, Cockermouth Rugby Union Club

Head Coach and Junior coaches with Chance Camp participants

 The Elite Stars programme offers pupils from Cockermouth School a personal development opportunity to learn through a mix of theory and practical sessions about leadership qualities, working as a team, specific sports coaching skills and event management. Then they get to put this knowledge into practise helping to run a Chance Camp. We were invited to see the last of a three day Chance Camp put on during this half term.  Head Coach Chris and Senior Coach Rob gave us the guided tour while the Elite Stars managed the afternoon warm up and competition activites which they had planned.  It was relatively cold today after the recent heatwave and threatening rain but the young people were so busy no one noticed as they tackled team challenges, cheering each other on in a spirit of friendly rivalry. There were problem solving tasks, agility tests, and obstacle races. The final race involved chasing and soaking the junior coaches. It was clearly enjoyed by everyone.  Points were tallied and the High Sheriff was asked to present medals and prizes to all the teams. Some of the individuals on the Elite Stars programme will be continuing to help with Chance Camps this summer and one has been offered employment.  A great programme, well run and giving more young people the chance to develop confidence, skills and friendships through participation in an outdoor setting. All the very best for continuing with this vaulable initiative.

The start of a team challenge activity
Winning team receiving their medals from the High Sheriff

27th May Meals on Wheels, Carlisle

Meals on Wheels, a not-for-profit enterprise service, provides hearty, nutritious food to people in Carlisle and the wider region, who struggle to make meals for themselves. Now based in Raffles Community Hall the meals are prepared, cooked and packed on site for transporting in  insulated crates. Trisha( Manager) and David (Trustee) explained the mechanics and challenges of running the service. It was all calmly efficient, fresh veg was being prepared by volunteers and the cooks were busy in the kitchen. We even a managed a cuppa before a group of volunteer drivers arrived promptly to get the meals delivered. We were invited to follow one driver on her round. What a welcome sight a friendly face is for the customers.  We had a great chat with one customer, Mr Crawford Nattrass, who was full of praise for the service. Having come through the challenges of moving premises, the restrictions of Covid and a fluctuating volunteer force last year Trish and her team keep smiling and providing a much needed service. Well done and thank you.

In the kitchen with the cheerful cooks
Out delivering meals with volunteer Barbara
Delivering to a satisfied customer, Mr Crawford Nattrass

People First, Carlisle

On our tour - at one the refreshment areas
Excellent table service

Greeted enthusiastically at the door, we stepped into a very impressive space, with modern furnishing and  art work (for sale too). Not at all what we were expecting. This is a conference centre with several rooms of differing sizes, a training place for students in the hospitality Academy and the office for People First. They are the largest provider of Advocacy in Cumbria, supporting thousands of people every year to have their voices heard and helping them to live their best lives.

Enjoying lunch in the recently decorated dining room

The lovely luncheon menu had been chosen, prepared and served by the students. We heard the story of the beginnings of the organisation from the founder Dr Rohhss Chapman and updated on the current and future one by the CEO David.  Such an inspirational journey.  Everyone we met was so enthusiastic and passionate about the work they do. We had an excellent guided tour of the building by one of the senior students.  Thank you for our tour and the importance of the work you do.

ICan, Carlisle

Last visit of the day and the most energetic ( well not for us but for the young people who had just completed a course based out of the WOW bus)  Lisa, Director and Manager, introduced the facilities and explained the ethos behind ICan to us.  Julie, the founder, wanted to help women change their thinking about fitness and health from I can’t to I Can. Staff and members were around to talk to us about their experiences and enthusiasm for the project and the positive differences it has made in their lives.

Several families arrived with their children to demonstrate the bounce session run out of the  WOW bus (Wheels of Wellness). This  is a mobile facility which enables ICan to engage with even more people to help them enjoy being active and healthy. ICan has responded to a need for local people and wants to do even more.  There certainly was a feeling of community and energy about the place.  Wishing you all the best and thank you for the chance to see and hear about your vision and committment focussed mainly on womens wellbeing.

Lisa talking about Ican
WOW bus and Bellicon bouncers

26th May Wellness at Green Acres Barrow in Furness

We arrived to find a group of young people enjoying a celebratory picnic lunch.  They had just completed a 6 week course. Led by Hilary and Rachel using the STILL method to help these young people gain important life skills.  Being outdoors has been shown to be beneficial for the “wellness” of people and at Green Acres there is plenty of fresh air and space to learn in.  The young people delighted in showing us some of the animals – ponies, guinea pigs and hens which are all part of the learning environment here.  Well done to all of you for staying the course and now you have certificates too.

HS being introduced to the ponies
Graduates of a STILL programme with their certificates

Dalton Community Centre, Dalton-in-Furness

Just some of the many groups that use the centre

We enjoyed a wonderful welcome from several trustees and the Dalton Town Mayor and Mayoress and a tour of the centre.  Housed in an old Drill Hall and creatively updated to accomodate so many different user groups from the local community.  So much has been achieved by the volunteer team guided by the Chair Barry Doughty to ensure this is a vibrant and relevant space.  We were treated to a lovely lunch (thank you Brenda). Amazed by the imaginative use of both the inside and the outside space.  The gardening project with Dalton Youthy spilling over to meet the local residents in the back street is an inspiration and shows just what can be achieved by people working together.  Gates have been installed in the back street to stop vehicle access and residents now use it as a place for sitting out, growing plants and enjoying the crack.  So many users (5000 per month) benefit from the effort and commitment to keep the centre in good order and viable; amongst others Dalton Youthy, Family Action, Local Library, Community Police Office, Dowdales School, Army Cadets, Drop Zone, Film club. This really is a Community Centre.  Thank you for the invite to visit and see what can be done.


The back street getting greener HS with Ann Thurlow
Company Sgt Kenneth Brown and Sgt Andy Burns in the Army Caddet office

Duddon Inshore Rescue

This Inshore Rescue Station was built and developed by the local community as a direct response to a number of tragic events in 1969.   Since its inception they have been involved in over 400 incidents on or around the treacherous waters of the Duddon estuary. The station is well equipped and of course well maintained by a small team.  The boathouse doesn’t have a slip launching facility so a tractor is used to tow the rescue boat to the water, providing all weather access.  They also use quad bikes to have quick and effective access to the sands along the estuary.   Although they are an independent station they work with the coastguard to provide 24 hour coverage of this sometimes dangerous coastline with its shifting sands and exposure to the strong currents, tides and wild weather.  We enjoyed our visit to see behind the scenes and hear about the challenges to keep it running safely and efficiently; the training, fund raising, hours of equipment maintenance and of course the dedication of the volunteers (and more always welcome). Thank you.


Helm and crew member outside the Boathouse
View across the estuary from the watch tower

24th May Retained Fire Station Cockermouth

Training exercise - rescuing a trapped individual

A truly fascinating visit this evening to Cockermouth Fire and Rescue.  This is a retained a fire station, which means the firefighters all have other jobs and still provide 24 hour cover.  As you can imagine they have to be ready for all sorts of situations and training is vitally important. I was invited to observe an exercise simulating a road traffic accident with a person trapped inside a vehicle. Quite scary, but also very encouraging to see if there is an accident just how quickly they can strip off the side of a car to rescue the person. They demonstrated very impressive teamwork and skill and what powerful and specialised equipment they need to be competent to use. This is such an important emergency service. Thank you to everyone at Cockermouth Fire Station part of Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service.


17th May The Gather, Ennerdale Bridge

The Gather is open again

Absolutely delighted to be invited to the reopening of The Gather.  A fabulous, vibrant community owned and run cafe, shop and community room in Ennerdale Bridge. Everyone was delighted to be able to open and have people inside to enjoy the great menu. It has kept going through the last year with a click and collect service and lots of hard work by the volunteers.  Such a great resource whether you are local or visiting. Look them up for information about the live music/art events that are also part of the offering.

The scones with jam and cream were delicious.  Thank you.  

Some of the team behind the counter

13th May Beacon Hill Community Bike Club, Aspatria

In the bike store

 Two inspirational teachers and 4 students guided us around the Bike Club.  Mr Gee and Mr Young – both keen bikers – realised through conversations with students that biking would be a fantastic way to provide an activity that would engage and provide challenge.  The Bike Club was born. Weekly local rides on any bikes the students had developed into dreams and schemes of greater adventures –  Coast to Coast, French battlefield tour, Pisa to Rome, French Alps including the brutal Tour de France Alpe D’Huez section. The students told us of the challenges of fund raising, training rides in all weathers, bike maintenance, highlights of foreign cuisine, low times managed by everyone acting as team and dishing out encouragement to each other. What a fantastic initiative.  As always hats off to the volunteer leaders who make this possibe and to all the young people who have persevered and gained so much by committing to the tours.  Bigger dreams now of getting a training track built.

1st Wigton Baden Powell Scouts

What a different evening – torrential rain!  Undeterred the Scouts turned out in force to complete this evenings challenge, cooking supper on open fires. They prepared parcels of vegetables and chicken, a hot drink and camp doughnuts.  Cautiously we accepted the latter.  Expecting a rather soggy mass of batter, instead a toasted concoction of jam, bread, butter and sugar. Scrumptious and definitely on our own camp fire menu in future. They all successfully passed and clearly enjoyed the challenge which was strictly scored by their leader.   Well done indeed given the conditions.

The inspirational Julie Bryceson showed us proudly  around the recently purchased woodland, which is already being well used and provides the space for a greater range of activities for the different age groups – Beavers to Senior Scouts.  Parents told us of the value of their youngsters attending scouts; learning skills, making friends and taking responsibility. Volunteer leaders oversee a vibrant troop of currently 120 young people and growing.  A real tribute to the hard work from all involved. 

Thank you for a great evening and letting me off the washing up (this time!)


Wood purchased with a generous donation
High Sheriff works for his open fire cooking badge
This is what the perfectcamp doughnut should look like
Successful cooking on an open fire

4th May 1st Hayton Rainbows, Brownies and Guides

Brownies taking a photo break

Chloe, Leader and Lorraine, Border Divisional Commissioner, several volunteers and a lot of energetic Brownies greeted us at the playing field in Gt Corby this evening.  Luckily the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to shine. They were all clearly having fun.  Not having enough space to meet safely (Covid rules) at their home base in Hayton they are temporarily meeting in Gt Corby.  They were curious about their visitor and I was invited to tell them a bit about the history and the modern day role of a High Sheriff and answer questions.  Some great questions were asked and one was especially thought provoking;   “Your title sounds important, so why are visiting us?”  

I am firmly of the opinion that one of the most valuable actions a High Sheriff can do is to highlight the everyday things so many people do to help make better communities.  So everyone is worth a visit.

A session for Guides and Rangers next. Wide games and geocaching activities continued despite the rather large hail stones. The enthusiasm and good attendance numbers are a tribute to all the leaders and volunteers who give their time week after week and in one instance for 20+ years. 

Thank you for the opportunity to meet your group, to hear about all the activites you do and see so many young people enjoying being able to be together again.   If you want to find out more about this dynamic group look them up on facebook.

Guides snapped before playing "capture the flag"
Rangers about to head off geocaching
not even the large hail stopped the fun
This happy team captured lots of flags

Cross Bay Walk 31st July

Another reorganised event – like many it was planned for last year by Julie Barton the previous High Sheriff.  The good news is places are available.  If you ever fancied the idea of walking across Morecambe Bay ( expertly guided of course) then here is your chance and the registration fee is donated to Cumbria Community Foundation.  Hopefully see you there.

Tickets are on sale now from the Cumbria Community Foundation with entry fees of only £13 per adult and £8 for those 16 years and under (minimum age is 9 years). Advanced booking is essential, and tickets are likely to sell out fast.

All monies raised will go to the High Sheriff’s General Fund, managed by Cumbria Com- munity Foundation, which supports voluntary and community groups in Cumbria help- ing people facing disadvantage. Anyone wishing to also fundraise for the High Sheriff Fund can either make a one-off donation or set up a fundraising page and encourage friends and family to sponsor their walk. For more information, visit:

All participants should have a reasonable level of fitness. Although the route is largely flat, the ground surface can be demanding consisting of sand, mud, shingle, pebble and rocks, and walkers will cross through at least two river channels. For more information
on what to expect and how to prepare for the walk, please visit:

17th March Borrowdale Institute Restoration

Walked to Rosthwaite to meet Malcolm so we could see for ourselves how much progress has happened.  Works are entering the home straight.  What an amazing effort to raise the money and get the job done, especially with the challenges of this past year.   So exciting to see the changes and really looking forward to the official opening.  A great resource for the community.

Nearly there. Being shown the progress by Malcolm

16th March Her Big 5 Challenges

After an excellent walk in fabulous weather (Catbells – Dale Head- Hindscarth) we dropped back down to the lakeside path near Hawes End where we enjoyed an ice cream from the mobile van and met the tenacious Jane Reedy, a teacher from Kendal.  She was nearly at the end of completing the first of her Big 5 Challenges to raise money for Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK.  It is 5 years since she was diagnosed with an advanced, rare and aggressive form of oesophageal cancer and a year later she was diagnosed with the BRCA1 gene, meaning an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer.  Not someone to give up she is doing this “to spread some ‘hope’ to those who are going through their own personal ‘unchosen challenges’, develop an understanding of cancer whilst challenging myself with different sports”

A fantastic effort Jane and we were humbled and inspired to meet you. 1 down 4 to go. 

You can read more about her Big 5 Challenges and support Jane using the link below.

Jane with her daughter and friends setting off to run the last bit (not catch the bus!) into Keswick

14 April Cumbria Wildlife Trust & Mencap at Gosling Sike, Houghton

Great visit to see the excellent site and work Cumbria Wildlife Trust are doing at Gosling Sike, Houghton.  The sun shone.  Everyone was so pleased to be open again.  A regular group of volunteers from Mencap were helping to tidy up the effects of Covid induced neglect and getting the garden ready for more visitors.  It is so important for people to be able to get out into nature, especially after this last year.  Thank you to Jody, Centre Manager, for an overview of the place, Steve, CEO  for insight into Cumbria Wildlife Trust and their future plans especially for green social prescibing.  Keep an eye on their website.   Also to Sheila, Mencap Director for an explanation of the good work of Carlisle Mencap and to the 3 trustees of Cumbria Community Foundation who joined us to see what the funding received from CCF has helped to achieve.  We were sorry to have to leave for our next visit before the birthday cake for two of the Mencap group was cut.


Mencap volunteers

Watchtree Nature Reserve

and the sun just kept shining.  Next stop Watchtree near Gt Orton. Greeted by the ever enthusiastic manager Ryan Gosling. We heard about the site’s history from WW2 to the present day nature reserve.  After the last Foot and Mouth outbreak, 20 years ago, the local community wanting something positive to come out of those tragic events. So today its a fabulous accessible resource for recreation, education and the environment. 205 acres in total meant to see the variety of activites and meet staff and volunteers we needed wheels.  There are plenty of those for hire. Ryan suprised us with our wheels for the day. It was such fun.




Novel set of wheels for the HS party!

We visited a group of youngsters enjoying an outdoor learning session and celebrating with toasting marshmallows around the fire they had built.  Met  a keen group of volunteers making charcoal ( which is for sale ) and had a delicious picnic lunch (all the goodies from the on site cafe). Back at the cycle hire and repair Matt told us you can take your own bikes in for repair/service and they will take old bikes to renovate and add to their hire fleet. This creates very welcome income.  Such a joy to visit Watchtree and see the good work going on.


Children enjoying outdoor education session at Watchtree
Matt servicing a bike at Watchtree

10 April Carlisle Cathedral - The Eucharist service following the announcement of the death of Prince Philip

Not the anticipated start of my year as High Sheriff but I was honoured to be able to attend a service acknowledging the death and life of Prince Philip. A sad piece of news. He contributed in so many ways to so many people. A life well lived. My thoughts are with his family and especially the Queen at this time of loss and rememberance.


High Sheriff Installation 31st March 2021

David Beeby reading the declaration for the High Sheriff of Cumbria Installation
David Beeby reading the declaration for the High Sheriff Installation
Zoom audience for the High Sheriff of Cumbria Installation
Zoom audience for the High Sheriff Installation

Cumbria Way

Visiting the vital Citizens Advice Bureau (in Keswick)
Visiting the vital Citizens Advice Bureau (in Keswick)
The irrepressible Malcolm Stonestreet leading the major revamp of the Borrowdale Institute
The irrepressible Malcolm Stonestreet leading the major revamp of the Borrowdale Institute
David Beeby getting back to his roots and talking with a farmer
Getting back to my farming roots

In September 2019 Soo and I walked the Cumbria Way with 2 good friends. Along the route I took the opportunity to visit a number of charities who receive funding from the Cumbria Community Foundation which I have the privilege to Chair. Walking along the route provided significant insight to some very different parts of Cumbria and opportunities for a crack. Ranging from the joy of our landscape (particularly when it’s not raining!) to some of the real challenges faced by our communities.