The Sill was awarded £7.75 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This is the biggest HLF grant awarded to a national park as well as one of the largest grants awarded in the North East region in recent years.
Northumberland National Park and The Sill’s main contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, teamed up with Henshaw C of E Primary School to hold a calendar design competition. The competition was part of a programme of classroom activities where the children worked individually and in groups to create artwork inspired by the natural landscape and nature around them.
Sir Robert McAlpine judged the winning entries and provided funding to print the calendars professionally for the school to sell at its Christmas Fair to raise money for new iPads.
Anjana Raj, Sir Robert McAlpine’s regional community manager, said: “Our partnership with Henshaw Primary is just one of many engagement activities with local schools and communities which we’re planning to be involved with as The Sill project gathers momentum.
“It has been delightful working with the children, we wanted to support the school by helping to raise funds for much needed IT equipment and the children have done a fantastic job on the designs for the calendar. Standards were very high and we’re looking forward to teaming up on future activities.”
The children’s calendars have been such a big hit in Bardon Mill that the shops in the village are also selling them.
Susan Atkinson, senior teacher at Henshaw C of E Primary School, said: “This has been a great activity for the children. They thoroughly enjoyed working with The Sill project team and learning more about the landscape and heritage the project represents.
“They worked very hard on their pictures and were delighted to see all their designs feature in the calendar. It’s been great to have the support of everyone involved in The Sill and the local community to help us fundraise.”
The Sill represents the largest scale initiative of its kind in the history of National Parks across the UK. Its main purpose is to open up Northumberland National Park and the surrounding areas to more people, helping them learn about and explore one of Britain’s finest landscapes. When it opens in Summer 2017, The Sill will be open all year and offer a wide range of facilities including YHA hostel accommodation, state-of-the-art interactive exhibition space, a shop and a local produce café.
It is also predicted that The Sill will deliver substantial economic benefits to the region with around £5 million of additional visitor spending every year.
Stuart Evans, project director for The Sill, said: “From the outset, it has been vitally important to us to ensure all our local communities are involved. By working with local schools, residents, community groups and businesses, we hope to inspire people to celebrate, value and conserve the unique natural and cultural heritage of the landscape and promote the significant economic benefits such an iconic new building will bring to local communities in and around the park.
“The Sill activity programme, which includes interpretation, educational and participatory activities, is really gathering pace now. Even though the new building itself will not be open until Summer 2017, there are plenty of opportunities for people of all ages to get involved with the Sill and the National Park right now. It is also a very exciting time now construction is underway, and every day we move another step closer to The Sill becoming a reality.”