As well as offering a wide-ranging programme of land-based learning for children and young people, the Ernest Cook Trust gives grants to registered charities, schools and not-for-profit organisations wishing to encourage young people’s interest either in the countryside and the environment or the arts (in the broadest sense) or aiming to raise levels of literacy and numeracy.
Since the ECT is a land-based Trust, work which encourages or ensures the continuation of rural skills and crafts is of particular interest to the Trustees. All applications are expected to link in with either the National Curriculum or with recognised qualifications.
Each year the ECT Trustees give around £1.6 million to support hundreds of educational projects throughout the UK. Click here to download a list showing a selection of recent grant recipients.
A large grants programme for awards of over £4,000 and a small grants programme for awards of under £4,000 operate throughout the year.Back to top of page
Graduate chooses woodland career path
Young graduate Fiona de Wert has chosen an unusual career – working in a Dorset woodland, learning an ancient rural craft.
Fiona, aged 25, is the first trainee in a newly-funded apprenticeship scheme designed to halt the decline in the traditional rural skill of coppicing.
The apprenticeship is backed by a £1/4m investment from the Ernest Cook Trust, and is run by the charity Small Woods working in partnership with Dorset Wildlife Trust.
ECT’s funding has been granted in perpetuity and will fund the training of a new coppicing apprentice every three years.
Coppicing is a centuries-old and environmentally-friendly way of managing woodland. Trees are cut at ground level causing straight rods to grow, which are harvested to make products such as rustic furniture, garden hurdles and walking sticks.
It has been identified as an endangered rural skill with an ageing workforce and a shortage of new recruits.
Fiona de Wert is part of a new younger generation choosing the woodland as their workplace. She graduated from the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus four years ago with a degree in conservation biology and ecology, and has moved to Dorset to take up the apprenticeship.
She will spend the next three years training with coppice and green wood worker Toby Hoad on the Rempstone Estate, Isle of Purbeck. When fully trained, Fiona aims to set herself up as a self-employed coppicer, managing an area of woodland, making coppicing products and selling them.
She said: “I realised after my three years at university that the academic side isn’t for me. The thing that really sparked my interest was being practical, doing things with my hands.
“This apprenticeship is exactly the challenging learning environment I’ve been looking for. Hopefully the new skills I’ll learn will benefit the woodlands of Purbeck as well as allowing my creative side to flourish.”
The Ernest Cook Trust’s Chief Executive Nicholas Ford said: “We are very pleased to be supporting Fiona in her training over the next three years.
“Our investment of £1/4 million in coppicing apprenticeships was made to celebrate the Trust’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee year, to help halt the decline in this traditional rural craft. It is so good to know that there is a younger generation eager to come in and learn these old skills and help keep them alive.”
Small Woods’ Apprenticeship Officer Fran Fowkes said: “We are really pleased that we can support an apprentice in Dorset.
“This area has such a long history of coppice management that it is essential to keep it going. We are very grateful to the Ernest Cook Trust for supporting the coppice sector and providing this opportunity.”Back to top of page
by ECT's Grants Administrator Jose Phillips
While the Trust’s own education work takes the curriculum out of the classroom, we have a similar theme running in many of the initiatives funded through our grants programme. I’m constantly delighted by the creativity and inventiveness of many of these projects, which give children a range of experiences they simply wouldn’t have in the confines of school. Here are just a few examples:
Curzon Community Cinema in North Somerset received a £7,720 grant from ECT to develop a young persons’ film club, working with six primary schools and two special schools. Children discussed and chose films, learned how a venue is run and made decisions based on box office income. They developed an understanding of and enthusiasm for the arts and honed their literacy and numeracy skills. Children visited the projection room and the box office, discussed how a film poster is put together and how a film trailer wins attention. Teachers were given resources for follow-up activities and a website has been created where children can solve ‘real life’ maths problems experienced by Curzon staff.
At Llandudno Museum in North Wales, a £1,500 grant allowed four schools to work with animation and sound artists on the Iron Age animation project, Ebol (Welsh for foal), which looks at the changing landscape and environment through the eyes of a horse. The children visited the museum where they learned about the Iron Age before visiting Pen-y-Dinas Hillfort. They then worked with the animation artist developing a narrative and creating artwork, and the sound artist joined in later to record vocals and sound effects with the pupils. The film was accepted for an exhibition celebrating Britain’s most creative schools as part of the Southbank Centre’s 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain.
The Carve in the Community project, in Peckham, South London, was awarded a £2,798 grant and was a great success. Stone carving is rarely taught in art colleges and schools, so Arts Express took stone carving tools into Peckham Town Square and ran workshops so children could express themselves creatively. Nearly 200 young people took part over the nine days, ending with an exhibition of their work, with prizes for the best pieces.
A £2,100 grant to Ambios provided equipment and workshops to help students from a Totnes secondary school discover their local natural world by creating artistic sound compositions. The group spent a day on the Sharpham estate, experimenting with different recording set-ups, and exploring and capturing vibrant natural sounds. In the school’s music technology suite, the group developed their recordings into experimental artistic sound compositions which were installed and exhibited at the Sharpham Trust’s 30th anniversary celebration, and broadcast on local radio.
And finally, a £2,200 grant to Ayrshire Rivers Trust allowed 12 schools to participate in the Salmon in the Classroom project, teaching schoolchildren about river wildlife, lifecycles and environmental issues, with a focus on the Atlantic salmon. Day one at the school consisted of a presentation on river ecology, in which the salmon life cycle was covered in detail. After advice on how to look after salmon eggs, the class was given an aquarium containing around 100 eggs and children took responsibility for the health and well-being of the eggs and fish. When the hatched alevins were ready, the children helped transport them to the local burn for release into the wild. The final day took place back at the release site, where children could handle, identify and measure the fish, while bug hunting helped assess the health of the river.Back to top of page