Posted: 09/07/2012 11:12:22 by Nigel Nixon

SINGING schoolchildren joined thousands of flag-waving revellers as the Olympic Torch’s Cumbrian odyssey reached Ambleside.

Crowds began gathering from mid-afternoon as anticipation mounted ahead of the historic moment.

Greeted by cheers and applause, torch bearer Tom Wright, 15, of St Bees, passed the Olympic flame onto Windermere’s Stephanie Booth as it reached Borrans Park at around 6.20pm.

The beaming 14-year-old Lakes School pupil, nominated by her head teacher, told the Gazette it was the ‘best moment’ of her life.

“I was quite nervous but very excited,” she said.

“Everyone was really friendly and happy.

"It’s been the best experience.”

Sports-mad Stephanie is a keen swimmer and participant of triathlon and cross-country events and will compete alongside her sister in this weekend’s Great North Swim.

Her proud mother Christine said: “I didn’t sleep last night, I was so excited for her.

"I’m just really unbelieveably proud of her.

“The last week has been a little bit overwhelming.

"She was determined to be involved in the Olympics and this could be the closest she gets.”

Spectators Gordon Allatt and Norma Pearson made the trip from Northampton especially to see the torch.

And Mr Allatt was thrilled when he got to touch it.

“I’ll never wash this hand again,” said an emotional Mr Allatt.

“The Olympics is one of those things that brings the country together and makes us feel good.”

Mrs Pearson added: “I think it’s absolutely great and I shall be watching the Games every day while they're on.”

Children from Ambleside, Hawkshead, Langdale and Coniston primary schools performed a song especially-assembled for the occasion as the torch made its way to Waterhead to board the Bowness-bound vessel, the Tern.

It was helped on its way by a flotilla, christened Brathay’s ‘whalers’, as other boats sounded their horns in tribute.

Marj Waddecar, of Ambleside, who was looking on, said: “I was born in the year Britain last held the Olympics so I thought I ought to come down and see the torch this time.

“It’s good we have got the Olympics and let’s just hope there’s a bit of a spin-off for tourism in areas like this.”

Visitor Julianne Harlow, of Brighton, added: “It’s a really big event that we won’t be seeing in this country again and, rightly or wrongly, a lot of money has been invested in it.”

People were invited to write goodwill messages about the Games for inclusion in an eye-catching yellow ‘balloon tree’.

The Kendal Windows on Art project was led by Pam Williamson, who said: “I have worked with older people, schoolchildren and members of the public, asking them to send their messages to welcome the torch from Ambleside to London and the rest of the world.”

The balloons were given to children after the torch passed through and the messages will now go on display at Ambleside Library before featuring in a special opening ceremony at this year’s Ambleside Sports.

The Borrans Park festivities were organised in part by Barry Porter, of Rufty Tufty’s, Ambleside.

Mr Porter said: “I thought it would be a really positive thing for Ambleside - it really profiles the area.

“Anything that builds up Ambleside is great for local businesses and local people. The kids are really enjoying it.”

An Olympic Torch relay celebration, titled On the Night Shift, presented by Kendal Arts International, takes place on The Glebe, Bowness, tonight.

 

 

Tagged with: olympic, torch, ambleside


Posted: 22/10/2011 13:57:00 by Nigel Nixon

STUDENTS from around the globe are making Ambleside their home after enrolling on the University of Cumbria’s first ever international course.

Outdoor enthusiasts from countries including China, Australia and Germany are among the 17 students spending the Autumn term in the Lake District as part of their masters in Transcultural European Outdoor Studies.

The qualification is the first of its kind and is being run by the university, Germany’s University of Marburg and Norway’s School of Sport Sciences.

Course leader Dr. Christopher Loynes said: “Within this time frame, our ambition is to make the course a coveted choice for people interested in pursuing a career in the outdoor field. We also aim to develop tight links with non-European universities and make the course truly global. Eventually, we plan to make the course financially self-sustaining through the charging of student fees.”

The course will be funded by the European Commission for the next five years and once students have left Ambleside in the New Year they will spend their next two terms at the other institutions.

While some of the students area already experienced in outdoor studies, for many this is a new area of knowledge and expertise.

Katerina Pata from Greece, who previously studied to be a pre-school teacher, said:“I couldn’t find a relevant masters course in Greece and applied for courses elsewhere in Europe. I liked this course because I get a chance to go to three different countries and learn various approaches to the subject. My goal is to make the concept of outdoor learning more prominent in my country and create my own outdoor kindergarten.”

However, others come to the course with a lot of experience like Wilson Wai Yin Cheung who is a former president of the mountaineering association of Hong Kong.

The students, who come from 15 countries, will be living in university accommodation in Ambleside and learning the theoretical knowledge and practical qualifications necessary to be successful outdoor industry professionals.

During their first semester they will undertake two week-long hiking expeditions, one in the Scottish Highlands and one in the Lake District and a week-long canoeing trip.

Tagged with: university, world, ambleside


Posted: 27/09/2011 08:27:25 by Nigel Nixon
THE man behind one of Cumbria’s biggest tourist attractions has launched a stinging attack on councillors for blocking his £4 million plan to almost treble its size.

David Gill, who runs the multi -award winning South Lakes Wild Animal Park, at Dalton-in-Furness, has accused Barrow Borough Council of ‘stifling’ entrepreneurial spirit in the Furness area.

He believes his project would – * create 45 new jobs * bring elephants and ‘big cats’ such as jaguars to the park for the first time * improve housing for existing animals * add a children’s farm * revamp visitor facilities, including a large car park and a new steam train to take visitors around the park Mr Gill is frustrated that the council has not ruled on his planning application after a year – although it is minded to reject it.

Now he has asked the Government’s planning inspectorate to intervene and make a decision.

The borough council’s planning committee believes the project would be an over-development of a greenfield site and cause traffic problems for residents of Melton Terrace, off the A590, where the new entrance would be located.

And it says that part of the reason it has taken so long to resolve the matter is because some of the application details were not clear enough.

Mr Gill, 50, who set up the park 17 years ago, said: “I have lived here all my life and these councillors are the most backward-looking people you could come across.

“How a positive project, which would create jobs and bring more people to the area in such desperate economic times as these, could be refused beggars belief.”

He added: “At the moment we have four different car parks and up to 4,000 people a day trying to cross a busy 60mph road to get to the park. With our new plans we could have them all on one piece of land.”

And he warned that the zoo, which is one of Cumbria’s top five visitor attractions, would stagnate if it did not grow.

“In this day and age, if you don’t go forwards you are going backwards.”

The zoo is already home to a variety of animals, including giraffes, rhinos, lions and lemurs and runs two animal conservation charities which aim to protect vulnerable species such as Sumatran tigers.

Mr Gill’s plan has been backed by Cumbria Tourism managing director Ian Stephens, who said: ''The park provides one of many good reasons for visiting the Furness peninsula and has brought important benefits into the area in terms of employment, and tourist expenditure.

“The expansion plans are to be encouraged and have a close fit with the tourism strategy for Cumbria. We're sure that most people will be in favour of bringing increased employment and income to the area and as such we hope that the planning issues can be overcome".

John Millar, chairman of Dalton with Newton Parish Council, which opposed the plans, said councillors were not against expansion or creating jobs but were worried about access.

“We are concerned about traffic flow and the impact this could have on the surrounding rural area,” he said Coun Ann Thomson, chairman of Barrow’s planning committee told the Gazette: “We are not in the business of stifling entrepreneurialism – we wouldn’t dream of doing that.”

She said members had particular concerns that the car park would ‘stand out like a sore thumb’ on the hillside and it was still unclear how it would be masked by landscaping.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “Safety should never be compromised, but I hope these concerns can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

“The wildlife park is one of this area’s big-pull attractions with lots of potential to expand and create more jobs in the years ahead.”

The final decision will be made by secretary of state for local government and communities Eric Pickles following advice from the planning inspectorate.

A ruling is likely to be made next spring.


Tagged with: lakeland, park, south, aniaml


Posted: 04/06/2011 10:11:21 by Nigel Nixon

MORE than 10,000 people flocked to Crooklands at the weekend to celebrate quality local produce.

Country Fest — organised by Westmorland Agricultural Society — showcased the finest food and drink the area has to offer.

Independent food and drink producers and suppliers, who give the region its culinary reputation, tempted the senses at the County Showfield and gave visitors an insight into where their food comes from.

The family event also included a pets’ corner, ‘meet the farmer’, sheep shearing demonstrations, music and dance, a ‘grow your own’ area, crafts, beer festival, trade stands and dog shows.

Sheep dog trials were a new addition this year and The Westmorland Gazette hosted a wedding fair.

Richard and Barbara Mathews, from Kendal, were impressed with the range of items on sale and stocked up on locally-produced pies.

“We have such a wide variety of food here,” said Mr Mathews.

“We have got a lot of farmers who are extending what they do into other products and we like to support them.”

Tommy Brady, also from Lancaster, said: “The amount of food that is available is amazing. There are umpteen different types of sausage and pies — you want to buy it all.”

Christine Knipe, chief executive of Westmorland Agricultural Society, said: “The sunshine did bring people out on the Sunday and it was very busy.

"The feedback was positive.”

Tagged with: kendal, Lakeland, festival


Posted: 07/04/2011 16:24:54 by Anne-Marie O'Neill

A SNOW leopard which featured in a movie starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman is the latest addition to a South Lakeland zoo.

Young male Pavan, one of two leopards who played the part of Stelamaria in The Golden Compass, will be housed in a walk-through enclosure at Lakeland Wildlife Oasis at Hale, near Milnthorpe.

Staff have created a homely feel for their new feline friend with the enclosure designed to look like a Himalayan village with plenty of rocks for him to climb and snooze on.

An acrylic tunnel running through the enclosure will allow visitors to see Pavan in his own habitat in what is thought to be the UK’s first walk-through big cat exhibit.

Assistant manager of Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, Caroline Howard, said: “We’re really excited about Pavan’s arrival - he’s a real celebrity cat! His new home is amazing. You can walk right through his territory while he ranges around you - even above your head!”

Pavan has arrived from UK charity the Cat Survival Trust which helps conserve endangered cats.

Once he has settled in his new environment, zoo staff hope to form a breeding pair by adding a female snow leopard to Pavan’s enclosure.It is not known how many snow leopards are left in the wild but they are now classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Lakeland Wildlife Oasis is joining the captive breeding programme which is run by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums.




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