An important message from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 January 2014
CLarence House Press Office
Archant Life, throws its support behind the Prince's Countryside Fund, here His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales explains the ethos behind the Fund and the positive effect it has on farmers and rural communities.
A message from His Royal Highness
For many people in this country, including myself, the British Countryside represents a vitally important national asset. But it doesn’t just happen by accident. It is largely sustained through the dedicated efforts of our dwindling agricultural and rural communities which face a multitude of challenges in today’s uncertain world. Being aware of these accumulating challenges, it was in 2010 that I set up my Prince’s Countryside Fund. The aim was to raise sorely needed funds to support projects that have a positive impact on the long term viability of Britain’s rural areas and to raise awareness of the value of the countryside to the nation.
The Countryside Fund receives the vast majority of its funding - through cause-related marketing - from enlightened companies which recognize the importance to their business of supporting our countryside, and so I am delighted that Archant Life is joining their ranks, helping to raise awareness and much-needed funds over the course of the next year.
Last year was particularly tough for our farmers and rural communities, with the worst weather for decades causing untold suffering and financial struggle. The impact of this will be felt for many months to come, which is why it is now so important that we scale up the Fund’s work.
What I believe is particularly special about the Fund is that it is dedicated to supporting the people who live and work in the countryside. It focuses on forward-looking projects that help to tackle the key issues facing rural areas through solutions and existing organizations that we know work. The impact we are beginning to make through this approach is wonderful to see - from training apprentice hill farmers to supporting village pubs and bus services. I do hope you enjoy reading about the inspiring stories in your local area and then can appreciate what a difference can be made to the Fund through your support.
The majority of the land area of the UK – around 80% - is farmland yet over 800,000 rural households live below the poverty line. 800 village shops are closing each year and 13% of 16-18-year-olds in rural areas are not in education, employment or training.
At the same time, rural tourism contributes £14 billion to the UK economy from 75 million visits a year, which proves that there is a deep affection for the fields, woods, mountains, rivers, meadows and moors that make Britain’s countryside some of the most beautiful on the planet.
The countryside is also vital. 77% of all our drinking water comes from the upland areas of the UK, domestic food and drink is worth £22 billion to the economy, British livestock is one of the most sought after for breeding in the world and globally the UK is the seventh largest wool producer.
Without subsidy most of the farms that provide rural employment, maintain the countryside and put food on our tables would make a loss so it is vital that they – and many other rural enterprises and projects – get funding.
HRH The Prince of Wales has long been a supporter of British farming and rural communities and has for many years championed their cause.
His long-held concerns for the future of Britain’s rural areas led him to raise the idea of helping them become more sustainable. He challenged business leaders who make up his Prince’s Rural Action Programme to use their business power to help.
In 2010 His Royal Highness set up The Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF) supported by a collaboration of businesses with the aim of giving grants to projects that help support the people who care for the countryside and tackling five key issues: rural isolation, low farming incomes, decline of rural communities, lack of access to training and a disconnect with the countryside.
Since 2010, PCF has donated £3.3 million in grants, supported over 70 projects across the UK and helped more than 52,000 people nationwide live and work in the countryside.
The grants aim to improve service provision in rural areas, support rural enterprise, support farming businesses, and provide training opportunities for young people - as well as educating people about the value of the countryside.
The majority of the funding comes from the supporting companies such as Waitrose, Asda, HSBC, M&S, Strutt and Parker, Coutts and McVitie’s, which are recognisable from The Prince’s Countryside Fund logo that they display.
By teaming up with Archant Life to run a year-long campaign in this magazine, PCF hopes to raise awareness of the problems facing rural communities and appeal to those who can to help in any way they can - through donations, by shopping locally and supporting countryside causes and projects.
How Archant Life is helping
The countryside is a special place to be cherished and embraced by its locals and those who love it - whether they live in a city or abroad.Archant is the country’s biggest publisher of county magazines in England and in every one of our magazines, websites and apps we celebrate the finer things in our readers’ and advertisers’ lives. The countryside and its people are at the heart of this celebration, as reflected through our magazines. They are what make our counties a special place to live, work and play in - and provide a rich voyage of discovery too.
And the word ‘discover’ is key to our reason for partnering with the Prince’s Countryside Fund (PCF). We believe that the work PCF is doing is fundamental to the sustainability of our countryside and the people living and working within its environment. PCF ensures that those of us who like to visit the countryside but live in cities and towns can also continue to enjoy a special place, which is at the heart of our heritage. Just think back to that spectacular opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics which charted our heritage, starting in the countryside. Through hard work, innovation and a desire to better our land we developed the country we live in and enjoy today.
The people who maintain and sustain the countryside need to have their story told, their endeavours celebrated and their cries for help heard. For this reason we are partnering with PCF for the whole of 2014 and throughout all our county magazines we will educate and inspire you our readers and advertisers to get involved too.
I hope you will help in any way you can to raise funds to support PCF’s special projects and causes.
We, at Archant Life, believe that this partnership with PCF and the stories we will tell you over the coming months will bring home the true value of the countryside and its people. We will bring alive the rural communities and celebrate the work done on our behalf every day for the future glory and benefit of the countryside.
Miller Hogg - Managing Director, Archant Lifestyle