A Nidderdale charity has received a grant of £8,800 to strengthen its future and attract new members.
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Friends of Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is run by a small group of volunteers who are committed to protecting and conserving the stunning spaces.
It raises funds and supports worthwhile projects in the area, such as Nidderdale in the City, a flagship outreach event that provided family-friendly countryside experiences to inner-city Leeds, and the recent Prince’s Countryside Fund Farm project, giving business support to family farms.
The grant, provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, will pay for an external review of the Friends scheme and recommend changes for a strong future.
Chair of Friends of Nidderdale AONB, Heather Garnett, said: “We are passionate about Nidderdale AONB and supporting local projects for the benefit of local communities and visitors, and have a key role in conserving the area.
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“The Trustees have detailed knowledge of the AONB, but we are seeing income and membership levels decrease jeopardising the future of our organisation.”
Situated in the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale AONB is one of Britain’s finest landscapes and is one of 46 AONBs in the UK, designated as areas of beauty worthy of protection.
Heather added: “This grant fund will allow us to explore new and imaginative ways to look at alternative ways of generating income and support, so we can not only survive but thrive.
“In this Year of Green Action, never before has the natural and ecological environment been so crucial and this investment will help safeguard our work in the future.”
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Sarah Kettlewell, Manager at Nidderdale AONB, said: “This review will provide the platform for Friends of Nidderdale AONB to develop a new strategic plan supported by a training and mentoring programme for Trustees. It’s an initiative all staff at Nidderdale AONB whole-heartedly support.”
Nidderdale AONB is home to 11 reservoirs, a World Heritage Site, more than 500 listed buildings and nationally and internationally important habitats and wildlife
Around 16,000 live in the 233 square miles, which attracts around 1.4 million visitors per year.