Local charity welcomes new faces
A busy period of recruitment has seen a number of new faces taking up positions in Mourne Heritage Trust over recent months.
Trust Chairman, Mr Desmond Patterson, welcomed the developments saying, “While the Trust’s core funding has been under pressure in the last few years, the core team has worked very hard to secure funds for projects like the Mourne Mountain Landscape Partnership, Active Lifestyles Project and Upland Path Programme, that have allowed us to open up new areas of work.
Among the new starts are Amanda McDonald and Alwynne Shannon, both from the Banbridge District Council area, who have settled into the roles of Administrative Officer and Outreach Officer respectively in the Mourne Mountains Landscape Partnership.
Amanda brings to the Trust a wealth of experience in finance and office management from the private sector, while Alwynne’s professional background in education is complemented by her involvement in the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team and in local fell running circles.
Alwynne and Amanda join Camilla Fitzpatrick (Programme Manager) and Emma Cunningham (Projects Manager) in making up a strong and experienced Landscape Partnership team. Both Camilla and Emma have previously worked for the Trust in more than one role.
In turn, Emma has been replaced in the role of Volunteer Coordinator by Cathryn Cochrane, now working alongside long serving staff member Alan Whitcroft, to deliver the Active Lifestyles Programme.
While not a native of the area, Cathryn is no stranger to Mourne having been involved in a range of conservation work with one of the major landowners, the National Trust.
Trust Chief Executive, Martin Carey added his welcome, noting that the recent recruitments had brought the Trust’s payroll to its highest ever – no less than 18 people in April 2013.
He explained, “In addition to the new full and part time posts we have been able to create temporary positions related to specific projects including erosion control. But in addition significant indirect employment in the local area has also been supported by initiatives developed by Mourne Heritage Trust.
“For example, through substantial contracts, the path upgrade project on Slieve Binnian, which will later take in the Saddle of Donard, has employed skilled local people in stone working and digger driving, while the Mourne Coastal Route developments have provided jobs in construction and landscaping.
“There are also spin offs from these capital projects, not least the local farmers from whom we have bought sheep’s fleeces for use in the path work but also general building supplies.”
The Trust further reported that, after advertising recently in local and regional press for another new post, that of Mountain Bike Ranger, it had been inundated with inquires and over 100 application packs had been issued.
Reflecting on the growth in staffing, Mr Carey commented, “It has indeed been a busy time in which we have been delighted to be able to attract some very capable and committed people.
“Our only regret is that, because of the year to year nature of much of the Trust’s funding and our significant reliance on a wide range of competitive project funders, like the National Lottery, quite a few positions are short to medium term and/or part time.
“We look forward to perhaps in future having a more stable funding base that will allow us to sustain on a better footing the jobs that are to be had in landscape and heritage services for areas like the Mournes.”
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