Marketing for an eco-future

Businesses that are paying more than lip service to environmental issues should be shouting about their efforts.

That’s the advice to firms in Cumbria from the team that’s leading the way in advice and help for a sustainable business future.

Now the ERDF-funded Eco-Innovation programme in Cumbria is to stage a free workshop to show just how eco-values can be communicated to customers, and the wider business community.

“Environmentally aware consumers are increasingly influenced by the effects that their purchase decisions have on the environment,” says Eco-Innovation Cumbria project manager Glyn Griffiths.

“This, in turn, is driving businesses to consider their own products, services and behaviour from an environmental as well as a sustainability perspective.

“Effective marketing is core to the future success of any company’s eco-strategy. Our workshop will show you how to apply the marketing principles to the challenges of developing successful marketing campaigns for sustainable products and businesses.”

To be staged at the North Lakes Hotel on Thursday March 26, the interactive session will provide delegates with new networks as well as new understanding of the challenges and modern marketing best practice in a sustainable economy.

The workshop is being delivered by Gillian Brown and Alister Minty from Entrepreneur Business School (EBS). EBS is a network of successful business leaders, each of whom has started and grown one or more new technology businesses, raised equity investment or venture capital and led their company through a significant corporate event.

They are all still active in their own companies, across diverse industries and global markets and use their experience, knowledge and expertise to bring competitive advantage to projects and companies.

For further details and how to sign up, see




Monster plan to save the Lakes’ environment

A nature trail to encourage children to care for the environment has been launched – with the help of a mythical Windermere monster.

Bownessie will be leading youngsters and their families along the lakeside trail pointing out areas of eco-concern and natural history.

The project has been developed by a Windermere businesswoman assisted by two conservation interns attached to the University of Cumbria.

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“We want to engage with children so we can nurture passionate environmentalists and encourage them to influence the people around them,” said Ffion Beavis, a marine conservation undergraduate at the University’s Ambleside campus.

She and Louise Mercer, who has a Masters degree in environmental science from Utah in the USA, are working with Naz Craig, who created the Bownessie toy and children’s brand. Families can download trail details, a quiz, and a rainy-day pack from the website, with the chance for children to win virtual badges with their suggestions of ways to protect the lake environment.

Said Louise: “Children are naturally curious about the world around them. As we’ve seen with the Greta Thunberg environmental movement, children a have huge impact on vital messages and actions.

“We don’t want to burden them. They should enjoy the lakes, mountains, woodlands and wetlands as we did, but learning through initiatives like Bownessie, which includes activity and information packs, there’s a lot of fun to be had too.”

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The scheme is part of the ambitious £2.3 million European Regional Development Fund’s Eco-Innovation project in Cumbria, which aims to help small and medium sized businesses reduce CO2. It provides fully financed internships to eligible companies through student researchers and graduates, supporting a wide range of projects, including waste reduction and improving efficiency.

The myth of Bownessie started 15 years ago with reported “sightings” of a large creature in the northern waters of Windermere. Scientists have found no evidence, but the legend grew following the televising in Canada and the USA of an hour-long documentary about the Windermere monster.

Naz Craig developed a cuddly toy and other items in her Bownessie brand – tee shirts, key rings, colouring books – and is seeking financial backing to develop the range further. She is delighted her brainchild is being used to such a good planet-saving effect. “It’s a chance to give every child a vital insight into how small actions can make a massive difference. This way, there’s a fun element, as well as the educational impact.”

Louise, an international fell-runner who hails from the Scottish borders, grew up with stories of the world-famous Loch Ness monster and admits nobody knows for sure what lurks beneath Windermere’s deep, dark water. “What I do know is that millions of visitors come here each year. If we can reach them and show the benefits of making slight tweaks to everyday lives, there’s real potential to create a sustainable future.”

Ffion, originally from Gloucestershire, said: “Adults hear the news, know we have to cut CO2 emissions, but remain disconnected. This way, with children looking out for items along the trail, there’s a chance for whole families to become involved.”

Both Ffion and Louise hope to make careers in education and promoting sustainable behaviour change.

Find out more on:

Help fund the project here 

Eco-Innovation Cumbria is led by University of Cumbria in partnership with Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire.





Handy decoration from the fells brightens up health centre

Patients arriving recently at Ambleside Health Centre were treated to a cheering sight for sore eyes – a fairy-tale Christmas tree with not a glitzy bauble or hint of tinsel in sight. Instead, the novelties hung on its branches used nothing more than dried orange slices, pine cones, twigs and paperchains made from recycled brown paper.

The super-sustainable festive decorations are hand-made by Ann-Marie Verner and Jo Jackson, and make full use of anything they can recycle. Both of them enjoy hill walking and tackle a different  walk with friends each week, stopping only to gather up discarded litter and plastic – and dropped gloves.

Every year a surprising number of fell walkers, including many little ones with very small hands, don’t notice they’ve dropped a glove or mitten. Quite a number of these end up, in true Blue Peter style, as ones that Ann-Marie (who is is medical secretary at Ambleside’s Central Lakes Medical Group) and Jo found earlier, and were strung up round the Health Centre foyer, adorned with jingle bells and tiny wooden star buttons on their woollen fingers, and pegged between recycled pages of Wainwright walks. The cost of it all was nil, with the added bonus of days spent out-of-doors on the hills as the Wainwrighters gathered their ‘finds’.

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The pair completed all 214 Wainwrights a few years ago and are now ticking off the Birketts, of which there are 541,  including 209 of the 214 Wainwrights, and 59 of the 116 Wainwright Outlying Fells. Ann-Marie and Jo are up to number 311 so far. Ann-Marie also notched up 365 fell summits last year, not all different ones, some as local as a quick dash up Todd Crag, others day-long multi-top hikes. She started and finished with Wansfell, and is now on the journey again this year.


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Author wins Lake District competition

An author who loves the Lakes has won a competition organised by a top Windermere hotel.

Katharine Norbury was one of several hundred people who entered the online competition to win a free stay at the award-winning Cedar Manor.

Her name was pulled out of a hat by hotel owner Jonathan Kaye.

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Katharine Norbury is an author, audio-book reader and regular contributor to the Guardian.  After training as a film editor with the BBC she studied Creative Writing at UEA and has a PhD in creative and critical writing from the University of Huddersfield.

Katharine spent 20 years in the film and television industry before writing her first book The Fish Ladder: a Journey Upstream (2015) which combines travelogue, memoir and a celebration of the natural world. Said Jonathan: “Anyone who has read it will know that Katharine loves the Lake District, so we will be very pleased to welcome her here.”

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Katharine Norbury. Photo by Robin Farquhar-Thomson

The Fish Ladder: a Journey Upstream, which was published to great critical acclaim in 2015, was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize 2016, longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2015, awarded the Telegraph Book of the Year 2015 and Katharine was selected as the Observer Rising Star in non-fiction for 2015. The book is now being developed into a feature film for which Katharine is writing the screenplay.

Katharine is currently working on an anthology of women’s writing about nature in the archipelago of Britain and Ireland, Women on Nature with Unbound and a second work of creative non-fiction about the idea of home.

The Cedar Manor has just  been given the AA Gold award and five stars for their guest accommodation, along with a coveted breakfast award.

Based on the outskirts of Windermere, the Cedar Manor has ten luxurious rooms including a self-contained suite, and has won a host of top awards over the years since  Jonathan and his wife Caroline took the helm. They have been prize winners for design, customer service, and green credentials, taking the sustainability award at the Cateys, the Oscars of the hospitality world.

Five stars means awareness of each guest’s needs with nothing being too much trouble. AA Gold Stars are awarded to the very best properties offering excellent levels of quality throughout and outstanding levels of hospitality and service.


Lakes hotelier joins the national judges

Windermere hotelier Jonathan Kaye joined the judging panel for the hospitality industry’s top award event in London.

Jonathan was invited to be a judge at the Hotel Catey Awards at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel in London. The presentation dinner was attended by 750 guests, representing the best of the British hotel industry. Jonathan was there with his wife, Caroline.

The Cedar Manor has regularly featured in the finals, and last year was judged to be the UK’s top hotel in the sustainability category.

Since they started in 1984 the Cateys have become established as a celebration of UK hospitality, showcasing innovative brands and trail-blazing individuals who are nominated, selected and rewarded by their peers.

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan and Caroline Kaye

Jonathan said: “It was a great honour to be asked to join the judging panel after Caroline and I have attended many ceremonies as finalists and guests. The UK has the best hotels in all the world, and our association with the Cateys has helped us develop and improve our own hotel to be a world class establishment in the Lake District.”


Cumbrian film festival awards top movie

The extraordinary true story of the teenage Arab prince sent to London on a high-stakes diplomatic mission was voted the best feature film at Ambleside’s Inward Eye film festival.

Born a King took the honours after a showing on the final night of the three-day inaugural event, organised by Hopscotch Films at Zeffirellis cinema, and Rydal Mount. The festival was deemed to be a great success and is likely to become an annual event.

Four years in the making, Agustí Villaronga’s Born a King, starring Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and Hermione Cornfield (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) and produced by Andrés Vicente Gómez, is a true events-based historical drama.

Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, aged just 14, was sent by his warrior father to London in 1919 to negotiate the formation of his country – dealing with Lord Curzon and Winston Churchill among many other eminent political figures. His job was to persuade the great powers, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire with WWI, to adopt a policy of non-interference towards Saudi Arabia.

A Spain/UK production, filmed mostly in Saudi Arabia, the screenplay is by Henry Fitzherbert, co-writer of the 2018 Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy horror Slaughterhouse Rulez, along with Bader Al Samari and Ray Loriga.

Ambleside audiences judged that it was a beautifully-shot portrayal of a fascinating and deeply moving little-known story.


Screenwriter Henry Fitzherbert and actor Simon Paisley Day with the best feature film plate awarded by Zeffirellis

Charlotte Wontner of Hopscotch Films said she was thrilled that the film’s screenwriter and one of the actors were present at the festival. She said: “The festival was a great success and we hope that Inward Eye will now become an annual feature on the film calendar.”

Alongside the festival, the very first Inward Eye Writers Workshop took place at Rydal Mount, which is the home of the poet William Wordsworth, and still owned by the Wordsworth family. Charlotte Wontner is a great great great great granddaughter of the poet.




A friendly Lakes sheep and a running shoe join forces to support international races

A partnership between two iconic Lake District brands will enable the International Under 18 Mountain Running Cup to be staged in Ambleside next summer.

The Herdy Company, with its world famous smiling sheep, and the running shoe specialists inov-8 are to be headline sponsors of the event which will bring young athletes from across the globe to the Lakes.

Herdy at Blea Tarn

The IUMRC is the world’s premier competition for young runners, and is being held in England for the first time, organised by Ambleside AC. The runners will tackle a typical Lakeland fell-race course on Loughrigg as part of a weekend festival of running, with a flag-bearing parade through the streets launching the start of the event.

Event director Duncan Richards, the England team manager, who has been negotiating to bring the event to the Lake District, said that the organisers were thrilled to be working with two of the most important and exciting brands in the region, after needing to raise £30,000 to stage the races.

“We have inov-8, who are the technical specialists who are synonymous with fell running, and Herdy is the welcoming face of a character that symbolises the Lakes,” said Duncan. “One enables runners to tackle all levels of fell terrain, while Herdy is inspired by the Lakes’ native Herdwick sheep who know the fells even better than the best runners!”

Spencer Hannah, co-director and founder of Herdy, said: “The fit couldn’t be better. Herdy was born in the Lakes 12 years ago and the Herdy face is all about spreading smiles and sharing happy moments. We’re here to welcome the runners, their families and all the visitors to this fantastic event and the spirit of Herdy is here to inspire friendship, shared adventure, the freedom of the Lakeland fells and communities coming together.

Michael Price, COO of inov-8, said: “inov-8 was forged in the fells of the Lake District 16 years ago and we are supremely proud of our heritage. Loughrigg and the surrounding fells form part of our testing ground where we go to test the grip of our running shoes, so we know it well and will be out there in force to support the world’s best junior mountain runners when they come here next June.”

Their sponsorship is joining other local and national partners who are contributing to make the event happen. They include Epic Events, retailers Pete Bland Sports and Kong Adventure, the wealth management company Atkins Ferrie, and Love Ambleside, the local organisation that was founded to promote the town in the wake of Storm Desmond.

Other companies, including McClures of Windermere, and the Grasmere Brewery, are providing items for the athletes’ goody bags.

Alongside the international race, Ambleside will also host an uphill time trial race to the summit of Wansfell on the Friday evening after the opening ceremony.

On the Saturday, (June 20) the FRA English Junior Championships will take place in the morning, followed by the international races, and then an open race for all runners over Loughrigg and Silver Howe the following day.

The youth event has been a stepping stone for under-18 fell and mountain runners to race internationally since 2006.  Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are among those who have started their international racing careers at this championship, and for the last 12 years teams from across the world have converged annually at mountain locations in Italy, France, Ireland, Bulgaria and Czech Republic to compete for the trophy.

The visiting athletes will be accommodated at Ambleside YHA over the weekend, with a few youngsters staying at Windermere and Coniston YHA hostels on the first night.

“This is a fantastic accolade for our local club and will bring the international spotlight on Ambleside,” said Duncan.

“This event is all about developing and inspiring young people, be it international athletes, local athletes, local schools, clubs and communities.”

Duncan, who has been the England team manager at the last six Youth Cups, added: “I have seen the benefit such an experience can bring to young athletes, the confidence born from the shared experience of international competition.”

More details: