Heather and Chris McCarty Hailed As Conservation Champions
A HUSBAND and wife team who have spent nearly 50 years between them protecting nature and the environment have won a conservation award just days before they retire.
Chris and Heather McCarty, who are best known in the region for working side-by-side at Natural England’s Moor House Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve, say they are thrilled to have won The Pendlebury Award.
The award was established by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership to celebrate people who go above and beyond to help look after the landscape. Named after the organisation’s inaugural chairman and former councillor Bob Pendlebury, this is the first time the award has been presented to couple.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, Director of the AONB Partnership, said: “We had three strong nominees for the award this year but in the end it went to Chris and Heather, who I know have given so much of themselves to helping nature to thrive in Upper Teesdale. Heather has also done so much to help share this fantastic environment with others through her long -term work with school and community groups.”
The McCarty’s have lived and worked all over the UK but were excited to move to Teesdale when Chris took on the role of Reserve Manager in 1995 at the site which lies in the heart of the North Pennines. Then in 2002 Heather was brought on board as a Community Outreach Officer, working closely with schools and community groups.
Heather said: “We are thrilled that we won The Pendlebury Award. I don’t think we ever expected to and it’s come at a poignant time, just weeks before we retire. There have been some fantastic winners over the past few years and we were up against some stiff competition, it’s a wonderful way to bow out.”
Brad Tooze, Natural England Northumbria Area Manager, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Chris and Heather have won The Pendlebury Award – it is such a fitting tribute to the end of two remarkable careers. The dedication they have shown to nature conservation and to igniting the enthusiasm of others in the natural world is outstanding. Their legacy shall live on however and I’m certain we haven’t seen the last of them in Upper Teesdale!”
The other two finalists of the award were geologist Brian Young and chair of the Allenheads Trust, Keith Walker. The results were announced at the AONB Partnership’s Annual Forum.
Chris and Heather said they plan to travel more and catch up on hobbies, including watching both cricket and birds.
After 21 years in Upper Teesdale Chris said he hopes he has laid the foundations for ongoing and future research to increase understanding of management requirements for wildlife in the uplands and Heather said she wants to be remembered for introducing the special qualities of the area to young people.
“The North Pennines is a tremendous place with some extremely special wildlife, an amazing network of public rights of way and beautiful areas of tranquillity. We are both honoured to have worked in such a wonderful place.” said Chris.
The mantle of running Moor House has been passed on to Martin Furness, who has worked alongside the McCarty’s for many years. Heather says he is the perfect replacement and the site, which is home to the UK’s largest remaining juniper wood, is in ‘very good hands’.
Released: 05 October 2016