In April 2008 the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust was awarded a three and a half year grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (formerly the Heritage Lottery Fund) to set up the Community Earth Heritage Champions Project. Additional funding was also received from Natural England through Defra’s Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the Tomlinson Brown Trust.
The idea of the project was to take a holistic view of the environment to develop a better understanding of the relationships between geology, ecology and archaeology. Nineteen sites spread across the two counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire were chosen to be cleared and made accessible. They were chosen for their significant geological features, and with a view to covering as wide a range of geological periods as possible (see map below). Local volunteers or ‘Champions’ were recruited, initially to assist with the clearance work. They received training to learn about their local geology and how to maintain and promote their Champions sites; knowledge which they could then pass on to new volunteers. They were also provided with tools for conservation work, to help with the on-going maintenance and protection of the important geological features at their sites. Through these measures, the idea of sustainability was built into the framework of the project to ensure that its objectives could continue to be fulfilled well beyond the end of the funding.
The funded part of the project ended in 2012, with the chosen sites cleared and variously interpreted with information panels, leaflets and booklets, and a logo which endowed the project and volunteers with the name ‘Community Conservation Champions’. This is how the project is styled on the Champions website.
The Champions website has a section for each of the Champions sites, and files of all the Champions panels, leaflets and booklets can be found on the relevant pages.
Champions groups and individuals have become well-established in their local communities around the two counties, with many new recruits and more always welcome. They are engaged in a wide range of activities which vary according to the nature of the site. These include: site clearance, conservation and monitoring; public open days; guided walks, talks, and demonstrations; facilitating private visits by request. The H&WEHT continues to oversee and support the Champions groups.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Champions project, would like to visit a Champions site near you, or are interested in volunteering opportunities with the Champions, then please visit the Champions website:
Header photo: Lickey Hills Geo-Champions at work in Barnt Green Road Quarry