AN ACTIVE champion for wildlife in the North Pennines is the 2019 winner of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership’s Pendlebury Award.
Carol Inskipp, who lives in Weardale, County Durham, has contributed over 7,500 wildlife records from the North Pennines AONB between 2013 and 2018. She has trapped, surveyed and recorded many species, including moths, bats, bees and upland waders and her studies of hoverflies have recorded several new to the North Pennines area. She is an active steering group member of the Weardale Wildlife Group, and also leads walks and events to share her knowledge with others.
The Pendlebury award was established by the AONB Partnership to celebrate individuals or groups making special efforts to help look after the landscape in the area. 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 at the High Force Hotel in Upper Teesdale. Winners are chosen by the members of the AONB Partnership, which comprises representatives from five local authorities, wildlife trusts, conservation bodies, tourism destination management organisations and landowner representatives, as well as four community open seats.
Carol was presented with the award by last year’s winner, Sinderhope farmer Robert Philipson, who was recognised for his contribution to nature conservation, working in harmony with the natural environment.
Speaking after the presentation, Carol said: “I knew I had been nominated but it was a complete surprise to win. I’m honoured and overwhelmed to win such a prestigious award.
“I have been a birdwatcher since I was a child and in my 30s I started to record butterflies, dragonflies and moths. However, when the North Pennines AONB Partnership launched the Cold-blooded and Spineless project four years ago, this was life-changing for me, firing a passionate interest in all invertebrates, especially as they are so under-recorded here in the North Pennines.
“The invertebrate identification courses which were run for the North Pennines AONB Partnership by national experts have increased my knowledge and interest, and without them I would never have started recording some groups such as hoverflies. As I am now retired I am lucky to be able to dash out whenever the sun is shining in spring and summer here to see what invertebrates I can find in new places.”
Chair of the North Pennines AONB Partnership, Jan Simmonds, said: “I’m delighted that Carol has won the Pendlebury Award for 2019. As always the award reflects commitment and passion for conservation. The work that Carol has done to record species in the AONB is vital, and more recently she has been actively involved in helping the staff team to identify a series of Special Invertebrate Sites in the AONB as part of our Cold-blooded and Spineless project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. These sites will be a lasting legacy of that project and will help to maintain the diverse habitats which support our invertebrate species.”
Runners up this year were community archaeology group, Altogether Archaeology, and the Kirkoswald Wildlife Group. Altogether Archaeology began life as a successful AONB Partnership project, and is now established as an independent membership organisation with a detailed research agenda that will help to increase understanding of the region’s archaeological record. Members take part in fieldwork, research and archaeological training, and the activity programme has helped to increase understanding of the North Pennines’ historic environment.
The group has recently completed their third and final year of excavations at Holwick Well Head in Teesdale, revealing the remains of an important medieval settlement.
Kirkoswald Wildlife Group was set up 10 years ago and has worked on a wide range of projects including footpath and woodland enhancement, new public interpretation, red squirrel support, regular litter picks, bird and bat boxes, a wildlife pond and maintenance of nectar rich planting around the parish.
With help and advice from local farmers, the group has recently secured the lease of a three acres of very rare unimproved grassland and this year will be working on a project to manage this to enhance biodiversity.