Re-elected national park leaders meet youth representatives

From left, Joe Hudson, Neil Heseltine, Julie Hutton and Laura Day, at Semerwater in Raydale.

Farmer Neil Heseltine and local government officer Julie Hutton met youth representatives at Semerwater in Raydale for their first joint engagement since being re-elected chair and deputy chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The leaders met Joe Hudson, 20, from Malham in Craven, and Laura Day, 25, from Orton in the Westmorland Dales at an event in Raydale to learn about the land management initiatives currently being run by the national park authority in partnership with local farmers and organisations.

Laura and Joe have become youth representatives on the steering group of the National Park Management Plan (NPMP), giving them a say on the work programme of dozens of organisations operating in the national park.

They have also become part of Generation Green, a programme offering volunteering opportunities to young people.

Neil Heseltine, who was re-elected chair at the authority’s AGM at the end of June, said: “The critical area for us as a National Park Authority is climate change and nature’s recovery.

“It’s great to have Joe and Laura as part of the NPMP steering group and the Generation Green programme, because what’s important for me is that young people help to decide the direction that we are taking, because it’s them that are going to be taking over in future.”

Deputy chair Julie Hutton said: “The economy is really important and that has got to link in with climate change.

“Generation Green is doing that by giving skills to local young people that will support a route to employment in the ‘green economy’.” 

Laura Day, who is a postgraduate English Literature student currently living at her family’s tenanted farm in Orton, said: “The opportunity to live at home again was something I didn’t think I’d have, so being able to do something locally is important.

“I’m hefted here. This is where I’m from, so it’s about understanding myself as well as understanding the landscape.”

Joe Hudson, who is an Economics undergraduate as well as a record-breaking local fell runner, said: “A lot of young people tend to move away from the National Park, which is a shame, and it’s important to show that you can still live and work in the National Park.

“The change in the way people are working, with more home working, is a great opportunity for the national park.”