A FARMER from Sinderhope in the North Pennines who works tirelessly for his local community has won a conservation award recognising his contribution to protecting nature and the environment.
Robert Philipson, whose name is synonymous with farming in the East Allen Valley in Northumberland, is the 2018 winner of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership’s Pendlebury Award.
The award was established by the AONB 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 award is presented at the Partnership’s annual forum, which was held this year in Melmberby.
The list of Robert’s community involvement alongside his farming day-job is a long one. He has served as a parish councillor on Allendale Parish Council for 20 years and has been chair for the last three. He has served on the committee for the Allendale Show and is a director of charity, Natural Ability. He chairs the board of the Allenheads Trust, a board member of the AONB Partnership’s Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership Scheme and a member of the Northern Hill Farming Panel. He was instrumental in the restoration and refurbishment of the High Forest Community Centre at Sinderhope, from funding, planning and legal work to now serving as its voluntary caretaker and bingo caller.
However it is his valuable contribution to nature conservation which has led to the AONB Partnership Board voting for him to win the Pendlebury Award. The numbers of wading birds on his land is testament to the farming methods Robert uses, working in harmony with the natural environment.
The AONB Partnership’s Chair, Jan Simmonds, who presented Robert with the award, said: “I am delighted to be presenting Robert Philipson with this award. Robert has always been generous with his time and he is the first port of call for the AONB Partnership or the RSPB when they need a farm to demonstrate best practice in the conservation of upland wading birds.
“He has introduced at least half a dozen AONB Partnership trainees to upland farming life, and has hosted numerous open days relating to high nature value farming. He also works to spread the word amongst interested locals and the farming community, and many of his farming peers have become involved in conservation efforts by following Robert’s example.”
One receiving the award, Robert said: “I’m really honoured to receive the Pendlebury Award. I’ve been working with the North Pennines AONB Partnership for a long time, particularly through their landscape partnership project in the Allen Valleys. They have always listened to people’s views and respect the contributions they get from the farmers and people in the community. It has been a really positive way of working for me, and we’ve all been able to learn from each other in the process.”
The other finalists of the award were:
• Peter Jackson, Chair of the Nenthead Mines Conservation Society and a long-term supporter of the AONB Partnership’s historic environment and geodiversity work;
• Peter Sansom, nominated for his work with the North Pennines Smallholder Group, and for his time as part of the staff team of the AONB Partnership; and
• Natural England’s ‘Green Guides’ who do so much to engage people with nature at Moor House-Upper Teesdale NNR.