Norwich park in line for national award

Anthony CarrollWhitlingham Country Park has been nominated for a prestigious national award for the way it helps to encourage youngsters to appreciate nature.Anthony Carroll

Whitlingham Country Park has been nominated for a prestigious national award for the way it helps to encourage youngsters to appreciate nature.

The park and its outdoor education centre, at Trowse, near Norwich, has been shortlisted for the finals of the 2010 Waterways Renaissance Awards.

Whitlingham Country Park encourages young people and children who live in deprived areas or who have been excluded from school to enjoy the outdoors through a forest schools project.

Park manager Russell Wilson said: 'The young people we have would struggle in a classroom environment but if you bring them into an outdoors environment they thrive.

'By teaching them how to build fences and footpaths, and coppice and plant trees the children not only learn a new range of skills but it increases their self confidence as well.

'The feedback we get is superb. They say it is their best day of the week.'

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The park's outdoor education centre run by Norfolk County Council has also been singled out for praise for reaching out into the community and organising inclusion programmes through sport.

Mike Roper, the outdoor centre programme manager, said: 'Outdoor and adventurous activities provide a unique learning environment to develop those wider key skills that are essential to life.'

A 20 year restoration programme by the Broads Authority and partner agencies to breathe fresh life in the Trinity Broads, which comprises the Filby, Ormesby, Ormesby Little, Rollesby and Lily Broads, has also been put forward for the awards.

The restoration work on the broads, near Great Yarmouth, includes clearing algae, mud pumping, scrub removal and safeguarding water voles in the five linked broads which are isolated from the main Broads system.

Because of the 20 year programme rare plants and animal such as holly-leaved naiad, stoneswort, bitterns and Desmoulins' whorl snail are making a comeback.

It has also led to a large rise in visitor numbers as people take in the scenic views or go fishing or enjoy boating and canoeing.

Andrea Kelly, head of conservation at the Broads Authority, said: 'The Trinity Broads are now one of the premier sites in the country for seeing water plants and wintering wildfowl.

'All our hard work over the 20 years is showing real benefit and it is a good time to celebrate our success by going for this award.

'If you take care of nature it will take care of you. By investing in the Trinity Broads we are also investing in the health of local communities.'

The winners will be announced at the finals in Manchester on March 17.

Do you know of a Norfolk scheme up for an award? Call Evening News reporter Mary Hamilton on 01603 772418 or email