How to make the most of the spectacular landscape and history of the North Downs – that is the challenge for the newly-appointed North Downs Way National Trail Strategy Officer, Alex Goodey.
Alex brings communication skills honed at the BBC to the task of involving people and organisations who have a stake in the rural economy, in the creation of a new five year strategy for the National Trail.
To kick start the process, he is holding workshops for organisations representing the arts, culture, heritage and public health, as well as land owners, user groups and representatives from local government. The Surrey workshop is on June 28 at the Surrey Hills AONB Offices at Warren Farm Barns in Mickleham, and the Kent workshop is on July 5 at the Kent Downs AONB Offices at Wye, near Ashford.
The North Downs Way runs through Surrey and Kent for 153 miles, starting at Farnham in the west and ending abruptly where the cliffs of Dover meet the English Channel after an important detour to Canterbury. Alex’s role as Strategy Officer is funded by Natural England, but projects to enhance the sustainable tourism potential and the local economy in the area will rely on support from local groups and organisations.
He will be asking delegates at the two workshops to come up with their ideas for promoting the North Downs Way National Trail and maximising its benefit to the local economy. Anyone interested in joining the seminars should contact him at email@example.com.
Alex knows the North Downs National Trail well as he was born in Canterbury, lives near the route in Surrey, and still has family ties along the trail. “I have a strong interest in community development,” he said, “And I love the countryside. In my spare time I am involved in the Scout movement and I am an expedition supervisor for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
“I want to find out what the North Downs Way National Trail actually means to local people, and to encourage them to find common interests and work together. Doing this, we’ll be able to achieve projects that would benefit the environment and the local tourist industry, as well as getting more people to enjoy the great outdoors.
“The aim is to enhance and protect the environment and its ecology while celebrating local history and culture, using the North Downs Way National Trail as a focal point to bring communities together. The Trail is a nationally important route, connecting two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passing through 20 SSSIs. There are 11 million people living within 45 minutes of the National Trail but there’s a great opportunity to get day-trippers to appreciate its historic and cultural significance rather than just going for a stroll to take in the view.
“It was a highway before the Romans came and it has a great military history as well as being a pilgrimage route. “
Information on the North Downs Way National Trail can be found at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/northdowns or you can updates via Twitter by following @northdownsway