Stroud youngster on National Trust council
Following a recruitment drive over the summer holidays, a group of ten youngsters, aged between seven and 11 from across the country, have been hired by the National Trust and held their first meeting near Bath.
Three of the lucky youngsters included are Harry Wilson, aged 10, from Bristol; Leif Wilson-Palmer, aged 8, from Stroud in Gloucestershire; and Kit Le Froy, aged 8, from Marazion in Cornwall. The children will help the charity to evolve their 50 Things To Do Before You're 11¾ campaign and provide advice on how National Trust places can spark more children's interest in nature and the outdoors.
The new Kids' Council held their inaugural meeting at Dyrham Park near Bath recently and jumped into their roles with gusto. Having all tackled the 50 Things list, the children are passionate about wildlife and outside activities and brimming with ideas to make the National Trust more engaging for youngsters.
Their first proposal to create a mud slide was put into practise with the help of a large hillside and Rob Holden, Head Ranger at Dyrham Park. Installing rope swings at National Trust places and creating a country-wide nature trail were other ideas discussed by the young councillors
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The nationwide search for the youngsters opened in August and attracted hundreds of applications from across the UK. The National Trust judges were looking for imaginative and enthusiastic candidates who showed a real passion for the outdoors. The response from the nation's children both inspired and delighted the judging panel with the applicants sending in photos, drawing pictures and even creating treasure maps.
Some of the more weird and wonderful suggestions that came up in some of the applications included meerkats at National Trust properties, barefoot nature walks and going inside a large rabbit hole to "see what its like being a rabbit".
Leif Wilson-Palmer, from Stroud, won his place on the Kids' Council by saying that he wanted to make "outdoor sculptures from natural things" and said that the National Trust would be more fun with more adventure experiences for children his age. He added: "I would love to walk amongst the trees at Woodchester where the birds all sit and chat, also have bike rides that are awesome for kids."
Harry Wilson, from Bristol, won his place on the Kids Council by saying his favourite thing was "playing in my Nan's trees" and said that he would add stream walking to the list of 50 things. "It is great fun, big and little people can do it, I've been doing it all my life. I like feeling the current on my feet, splashing, finding the deep bits and getting water in my wellies."
Kit Le Froy, from Marazion, won their place on the Kids Council by saying their favourite thing was "whittling sticks" and said that "making National Trust places more interesting for children, introducing adventure parks, trails and rope swings" was important. Kit also felt that being part of the Kids Council would be "exciting" and "would love to dress up as the 50 Things bee in the film".
The successful applicants forming the new Kids' Council are:
• Jessica Swales, aged 8 from North Yorkshire
• Max Hodgson, aged 8 from West Midlands
• Francesca Carrannante, aged 8 from London
• Kai Bickley, aged 7 from West Midlands
• Kit Le Froy, aged 8 from Cornwall
• Leif Wilson-Palmer, aged 8 from Stroud, Gloucestershire
• Harry Wilson, aged 10 from Bristol
• Mia McDade, aged 7 from Stockport
• Sophia Tarling, aged 8 from Norwich
• Iona Howells, aged 11 from Kent
The Kids' Council and their families will be able to visit all National Trust places throughout the year to gain a true and deep understanding of what the National Trust has to offer. The children will report into the Getting Outdoors and Closer to Nature Programme board at the National Trust, and will share their recommendations at four meetings across the year.
Tony Berry, Visitor Experience Director of the National Trust, commented:
"The applicants were imaginative, adventurous and exciting and we cannot wait to hear their views and start bringing their recommendations to life. The sheer number of applications shows that the children of Britain do want to get outdoors, have fun and connect with nature and our mission is to make this as accessible to all children as possible."
Alex Hunt, Natural Childhood Director, commented: "We are committed to helping children connect with the outdoors and get closer to nature. Our Natural Childhood Report published earlier this year showed how children have fewer opportunities to play outdoors and we hope that the Kids' Council will encourage more free-range children."