Volunteers behind a project to restore historic signposts across Exmoor National Park have been shortlisted for the UK National Parks Volunteering Awards 2018. Sponsored by Columbia Sportswear, the award recognises the outstanding contribution that volunteers make in helping care for these precious landscapes and inspiring others to safeguard them for future generations to experience and enjoy.
Two years ago, many of Exmoor’s traditional cast-iron signposts were looking shabby and at risk of falling into disrepair. In response to concern from local communities over the issue, Exmoor National Park Authority teamed up with Heritage Lottery fund and Somerset County Council to fund a project that would recruit volunteers to help restore and refurbish them, and trace their history.
Project leader Charlotte Thomas from Exmoor National Park, said: “More than 100 volunteers have contributed to this project, helping with everything from the initial surveys and historical research, to actually painting and refurbishing the signs. We’ve even had people coming forward with bits of old signpost found in outbuildings that are now back in their rightful place, saving hundreds of pounds in restoration costs. Being shortlisted for this award is a great way of celebrating all that’s been achieved by these wonderful volunteers.”
Two other projects from Northumberland and Dartmoor National Parks have been shortlisted alongside Exmoor for the ‘projects’ category – one of four categories of award.
The judging panel this year was made up of the volunteer coordinators from all of the National Parks, who made the following statement: “Judging these awards is a humbling experience as it gives us the opportunity to learn about so many people and projects that are making an immense contribution to the 15 National Parks across the UK. It was a difficult choice this year as there were so many inspiring entries. We’d like to congratulate those who have been shortlisted and we would like to thank everyone who is volunteering to help our staff look after National Parks!”
The winners of each category will be announced at the Kendal Mountain Festival on 17 November 2018. All winners will receive great prizes provided by Columbia Sportswear and £1000 bursary is given to the group and project winners to help their volunteer work.