£1.66 million from Heritage Lottery Fund awarded to help preserve the character of the Greensand Country landscape

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Greensand Country Landscape Partnership, Latest News

The Greensand Country Landscape Partnership (managed by BRCC) is delighted to announce that it has secured £1.66m National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to support an array of exciting projects which will help us raise awareness of the hidden heritage of the Greensand Country and to reverse the gradual decline in the distinct character of this beautiful and loved landscape.

‘Greensand Country’ is an island of higher ground, which is made up of the Greensand Ridge and the surrounding river valleys. It stretches from Leighton Buzzard to Gamlingay, rising out of the flatter clay vales. The area’s sandy soils were not suitable for agriculture, so by medieval times the land was mainly used for grazing, woodland, deer hunting and keeping rabbits. Much of this ‘poor’ land had been used to support the foundation of monasteries, but when these were dissolved under Henry VIII, the land was given away to those in the king’s favour, who built their manor houses and parks up on the former monastic estates. As a result of this history, the area contains all of Bedfordshire’s remaining lowland heathland, more than half of its woodland, and more surviving historic parkland than any other landscape in the country.

However, the landscape’s very distinctive character has been weakening over decades due to modern development and changes in land use. Valuable habitats are becoming fragmented; views of and from the area are being lost or impaired and traditional heritage skills are dying out.

The Greensand Country Landscape Partnership has been formed by a range of partners in the area who will work with landowners and local communities to take a joined up approach to meeting the challenges in the area. The Partnership is led by BRCC and the Greensand Trust, and also includes the RSPB, The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedfordshire and Luton Biodiversity Recording and Monitoring Centre, Bedfordshire Geology Group, Sustrans, British Horse Society, Flitwick Town Council, Shuttleworth College, local landscape author Brian Kerr, Community Voluntary Service, The Shuttleworth Trust, Federation of Small Businesses, Arnold White Estates Limited and Clophill Heritage Trust.

The 4-year programme will deliver the following:

  • Restoration and expansion of key habitats such as lowland heathland and grasslands
  • Events, workshops and festivals focused on the landscape and its heritage
  • Improvements to footpaths, cycle ways and bridleways
  • Much greater provision of information about the area, its hidden stories and its history, and its significance to our national and local heritage
  • Training and apprenticeships in order to develop the skills needed to look after this landscape for the future
  • Opportunities for local communities to volunteer and bid for funding for their own heritage projects

The Partnership is now hard at work getting started on the programme and recruiting three staff (see job advertisement here).

Jon Boswell, Chief Executive at Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity and Chair of the GCLP, said: “We are thrilled to have gained this funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver our Landscape Partnership programme with our partners in the area. Even locally, the fascinating heritage of the Greensand Country is not well known. As a result of this funding, we will be able to preserve the distinctive character of much of this beautiful landscape, and provide a multitude of opportunities for local people and visitors to enjoy and learn about the landscape and contribute to its future conservation.”

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of HLF East of England, said: “From healthy heathlands and working woodlands to storytelling and geotrails, we’re delighted to support this project which will achieve a sustainable future for the Greensand landscape and reconnect people with the natural heritage on their doorstep.

“Alongside a diverse partnership of organisations, volunteers and communities will play an integral role in this exciting vision for Greensand Country, gaining the skills and experience needed to not only reverse its decline but ensure it continues to thrive beyond the lifespan of the project.”

If you would like to learn more or get involved please see http://bedsrcc.org.uk/rural/greensand-country-landscape-partnership/

The Greensand Country Landscape Partnership is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is made possible by National Lottery players. Without them we couldn’t fund the project.

 

Seeking new staff for our LEADER grant programmes

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Beds & Hunts Claylands, Greensand Ridge LAG, Job vacancies, Latest News, Rural Development

Are you seeking a new challenge in the Bedfordshire area? Could you assist rural businesses to negotiate the challenges of applying for European funding?

BRCC is the accountable body for two Local Action Groups (LAGs), covering the Greensand Ridge and Beds & Hunts Claylands areas. Following a review of staffing requirements, we are recruiting for two new positions for our delivery team:

LAG Officer
Download: Application information (PDF)

LAG Support Officer
Download: Application information (PDF)

Equal Opportunities Monitoring
Please complete, and return with your application, our Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, which can be downloaded below:

Download: Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Looking for our new Landscape Partnership posts instead? Visit here.

To Apply

Please send:

1.    A CV which shows us how your knowledge, skills and experience fit the role as described in the person specification and job description.

2.    A supporting statement which describes:

a.    The experience and knowledge you have which would enable you to carry out the role as described in the job description.

b.    How you fit with the selection criteria as set out in the person specification.

c.    Why you would like this role.

3.    The Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Please send these to Lisa King at lisak@bedsrcc.org.uk or by post to BRCC, The Old School, Cardington, Bedford MK44 3SX.

Come and visit the community vineyard!

Written by Jane Markham on . Posted in Latest News, Warden Abbey Vineyard

This year the Friends of Warden Abbey Vineyard will be offering more tours of BRCC’s community vineyard than ever before.

As well as monthly vineyard tour days between May and September, a couple of new history tours have been added to the programme. These walks round the vineyard will be led by volunteer Margaret Roberts who is writing a book on the history of the abbey.  As well as telling the story of the abbey, she’ll interpret the landscape features surrounding the vineyard and what they reveal about the life of the abbey’s occupants.

All the dates for 2017 vineyard tours, new history tours, and the main Open Day in September are now on the vineyard website, where you can book on-line. Gift vouchers for tours available too! Follow this link for details:  wardenvineyard.org.uk/tours

 

 

The Greensand Country Landscape Partnership seeks applicants for new roles.

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Greensand Country Landscape Partnership, Job vacancies, Latest News

We have recently secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver an array of exciting projects, which will help us raise awareness of the heritage value of the Greensand Country and reverse the gradual decline in the distinct landscape character of this beautiful and loved place.

BRCC is the accountable body for the Greensand Country Landscape Partnership, a new Partnership established with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Greensand Country comprises the Greensand Ridge (a 35 mile-long narrow wooded sandstone ridge to the south of Bedford), and the Flit Valley.

We are now seeking to fill three new roles.

Communications and Engagement Officer
Download: Information Pack (PDF)

Conservation and Project Officer
Download: Information Pack (PDF)

Programme Support Officer
Download: Information Pack (PDF)

Equal Opportunities Monitoring
Please complete, and return with your application, our Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form, which can be downloaded below:

Download: Equal Opportunities Monitoring Form

Looking for our LEADER programme posts instead? Visit here.

To Apply

Please send:

1.    A CV which shows us how your knowledge, skills and experience fit the role as described in the person specification and job description.

2.    A supporting statement which describes:

a.    The experience and knowledge you have which would enable you to carry out the role as described in the job description.

b.    How you fit with the selection criteria as set out in the person specification.

c.    Why you would like this role.

3.    The Monitoring Form

Please e mail these to Claire Poulton at clairep@bedsrcc.org.uk, or by post to BRCC, The Old School, Cardington, Bedford MK44 3SX.

If you would like an informal chat please call Claire on: 07534484971.

PLEASE NOTE: THESE POSTIONS HAVE NOW BEEN FILLED (1/3/2017)

CPRE Mark for Warden Abbey Vineyard

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Greensand Ridge LAG, Latest News, Warden Abbey Vineyard

BRCC is delighted that our Warden Abbey Vineyard won a prestigious CPRE Mark at the Living Countryside Awards on Tuesday night in the Sustainable Enterprise category.

The Awards were presented by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis at John O’ Gaunt Golf Club near Potton.

This adds to the success of two other BRCC projects at the last Awards in 2014, when the Biggleswade Jubilee Wood won a CPRE Mark and the Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre won a silver award.

There were also two CPRE Marks and a commendation for projects that had received funding through our Greensand Ridge Rural Development Programme: Jordans Mill, Clophill Eco Lodges and Rushmere Country Park Visitor Centre.

You can find out more here

Warden Abbey Vineyard Open Day & Wine Sale – 11th September 2016

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Latest News, Warden Abbey Vineyard

Bedfordshire’s oldest vineyard is 30 this year!  Discover the hidden secrets of the medieval vineyard and abbey, why and how the monks made wine, and how we care for the vines all year round.

There will also be tours, wine tastings, other local food stalls, a “pop up” wine school, BBQ and other refreshments. Our Warden Abbey wines will be available to taste & buy (cash and cheques only please).  Also a rare opportunity to visit both the vineyard and the historic Warden Abbey building which is being thrown open by the Landmark Trust.

Located near Old Warden, the vineyard is now run by BRCC as a community vineyard which is cared for all year round by volunteers and works with other local charities and schools. The Open Day is organised by the Friends of Warden Abbey Vineyard and is our main fundraiser of the year, to keep this historic vineyard for the community.

Open 11 am to 4 pm. Entry: Adults £2, accompanied children free.

The vineyard is on a gentle slope and the ground is uneven and may not be suitable for people with limited mobility.

For further information visit the Warden Abbey Vineyard website.

BRCC’s Warden Abbey Vineyard featured on BBC Look East

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Latest News, Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

Our Warden Abbey Community Vineyard project had a visit from a BBC crew yesterday in the glorious sunshine.

A two and a half minute snippet shown on BBC Look East that evening included short interviews with volunteers, Vineyard Manager Jane Markham and Master of Wine Derek Smedley, as well as footage of caring for the vines and a tasting of the ‘dosage’ for our 2014 sparkling wine, due to come out before Christmas.

You can still watch on the BBC iplayer until 7pm today at http://bbc.in/2bddeJx.

New gardening service launched by the Bridge project

Written by Jon Boswell on . Posted in Latest News, Rural Development, The Bridge

The Bridge project in Luton, managed by BRCC, has launched Stockwood Gardening Services to offer high-quality gardening in the Luton area.

The Bridge was set up by BRCC with Luton Borough Council and others to provide volunteering, training and employment opportunities for people facing multiple barriers to employment. Stockwood Gardening Services will employ people who have developed gardening skills and experience within the project.

For more information visit the website or contact Chris Fox on 07801 233567 or at chris@stockwoodgardening.co.uk.

Vine pruning – dark art or science? Workshop 13th February

Written by Jane Markham on . Posted in Latest News, Volunteering, Warden Abbey Vineyard

A new year and a new vintage in the making! Pruning is a great time for new volunteers to come along to BRCC’s Warden Abbey Community Vineyard. So if you’ve been thinking of volunteering, why not take the plunge and join our merry bunch at our regular Tuesday and Friday sessions?!  For those who can’t make weekdays, we’re also holding sessions on Sunday 31st January and Sunday 21st February.   Just contact vineyard manager Jane Markham on 07981 113714 or info@wardenvineyard.org.uk.

New this year, we’re also running a vine pruning workshop “Vine Pruning – Dark Art or Science” on Saturday 13th February, which explores the art of grapevine pruning in more depth.  Maybe you have grapevines at home and would like to know more about pruning, or why the way you prune affects how much fruit you get? This day is for you! The workshop blends theory and practical experience, and goes into more depth than we can do at regular volunteer sessions.

Go to more information and booking

Frost in the vineyard

Frost in the vineyard

LEADER Funding Goes Live!

Written by Lisa King on . Posted in Beds & Hunts Claylands, Greensand Ridge LAG, Latest News, Rural Development

Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC) is delighted to announce that funding through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) LEADER Programme is now available to small businesses, farmers, foresters and communities in both the Greensand Ridge and Beds & Hunts Claylands areas.

From 2nd November 2015, businesses and communities in the rural areas of the Bedfordshire & Huntingdonshire Claylands, and the Greensand Ridge area of Central Bedfordshire and parts of South Cambridgeshire will have the opportunity to apply for funding through the 2015 – 2020 LEADER programme. Match-funded grants of between £10K to £80K will be available through a competitive process for projects that create jobs and grow the local rural economy.

BRCC managed the Greensand Ridge LEADER Programme from 2007 – 2013, during which time 15 projects were funded through the Programme, £1,386,470 was distributed as investment grant funding. This was the first time that LEADER funding had been available in the area and it resulted in the projects levering in a total volume of investment of £4,800,000, and helped to create 65 new jobs and numerous volunteer opportunities. Additionally, many other local businesses and suppliers were supported and benefitted mutually through increased partnership working and co-operation.

If you have an idea for a project, would like to be involved with one of the Local Action Groups or require more information about eligibility and the application process, please visit the Local Action Group pages using the links below or contact Ian Campbell, Rural Development facilitator at ianc@bedsrcc.org.uk or on 01234 832612.

For projects in the Greensand Ridge Local Action Group area visit their website here.

For projects in the Beds & Hunts Claylands Local Action Group visit their website here.

 

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