Rory opens Kirkby Stephen’s new community-run Tourist Information Centre
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, was guest of honour at the opening of the new community-run Upper Eden Visitor Centre in Kirkby Stephen on Friday 4th May.
The local MP was delighted to help celebrate the occasion of the Upper Eden Community Interest Company taking over the provision of information services from Eden District Council; the community interest company will also be offering retail opportunities in the centre to local businesses and organisations. The centre will be managed by a full-time tourism officer, but will be staffed chiefly by volunteers. Funding came from Eden District Council, the Rural Development Programme for England, Cumbria Community Foundation, Awards for All, North Pennines AONB and Village SOS, with support from local parishes and individuals.
“It’s wonderful to be celebrating this historic occasion in Kirkby Stephen today,” Rory said. “This is a fantastic example of the energy I’ve found throughout Upper Eden, twinned with the flexibility of Eden District Council and their attitude to making new plans and ideas happen. This kind of partnership between community and government is crucial – and it’s how we’re going to continue to make the Big Society work right here in Penrith and the Border.”
Joan Johnstone, Chair of Kirkby Stephen Town Council, said: “We’re thrilled that our local MP was able to show his support here today. This has been a real community effort and we’re very grateful to all who have supported us with funding and worked hard to get the new centre up and running – and to the army of volunteers who’ll keep the momentum going. Tourism is vital to our local economy and we want the centre to be a real asset to Upper Eden.”
The centre will be a one-stop-shop where locals and visitors can find information about everything going on in the Upper Eden area : walks, attractions, events and activities, local history and wildlife, places to stay and eat. Also on offer are a wide range of maps, guides and attractive gifts, including locally-produced jams and jellies, ceramics, cards, and soft toys.
One organisation to see the benefit of this ‘high street presence’ is Cumbria Wildlife Trust, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Trust manages Smardale Gill Nature Reserve – one of Upper Eden’s best-loved attractions and recently named one of Britain’s favourite wild places.
“This is a fantastic opportunity” said the Trust’s Charlotte Rowley. “We wish the centre every success and hope local people as well as visitors to the town will pop in and find out more about our fabulous nature reserves and everything else we do. Our local support group has a busy programme of walks, talks, and work parties and everyone’s welcome to join in and help us to help wildlife.”
For more information and to find out more about retail, leaflet hosting or volunteering opportunities at the new centre, contact the visitors centre on 017683 71199 or [email protected].
Picture : Rory Stewart MP formally opens the community-run Kirkby Stephen Tourist Information Centre
Note to editors
This community take-over is a joint project between the Upper Eden Community Plan (UECP), Kirkby Stephen Town Forum, Kirkby Stephen Town Council, Kirkby Stephen Walkers are Welcome and Upper Eden Future.