In 2004, Glendale Agricultural Society established the Children's Countryside Day (CCD), specifically to give children of all abilities aged between 5 and 11 years, first-hand experience of rural life. It has been running for 14 years and is recognized nationally as an exemplar of its type. It embodies all of the Society’s objectives. The event is based upon knowledge sharing and learning for all the children, teachers, volunteers and exhibitors who attend each year and also for the committee themselves, who strive to achieve excellence in everything they do.
The CCD is an interactive one day programme for the benefit of school children delivered near the end of the summer term. This point in the school year has a degree of flexibility enabling teachers more opportunity to take pupils out of the classroom.
The day addresses the growing urban: rural divide which exists even in smaller towns and villages. Children and teachers need to understand and experience where their food comes from, who produces it for them and the environment it is grown in, in order to gain a wider understanding into of the role of the countryside and its importance in everyday life. Farming is the lifeblood of the Glendale community and of the greater part of Northumberland. The CCD is delivered by the Glendale community, for the benefit of the wider Northumberland community.
1,600 school children participate in CCD each year, giving a total of over 20,000 children having participated in the event to date. Some of these children have never visited the countryside before or and some have not even stepped onto a grass field. Over 65 exhibitors kindly give their time for free to educate the children on their countryside-based skills and crafts. Each exhibitor utilises their own resources, which is a vital element to the success of the event. For example, The British Wool Board displays the different uses of wool, Blagdon Farm Shop shows the different cuts of lamb, Doddington Dairy provide Ice cream & Cheese Making demonstrations and Ahlstrom Munksjo showed the production of paper from tree to teabag and many more exhibits. The CCD is all about offering children new experiences based around food, farming and the countryside. Along with the children, there are also over 250 teaching staff and parent helpers who attend the event enabling them to also gain a wider understanding into the role of the countryside and its importance in everyday life.
The CCD endeavours to connect the countryside to the curriculum. By running an annual competition linked to the current year’s theme, which the children prepare for in class time prior the event, the Society aims to engage the children and their teachers before they even attend Children’s Day.
The CCD is meticulously organised by a team of outstanding, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. Feedback from pupils and schools staff is extremely positive. Children provide drawings, photos and handwritten comments following their visits. After 14 years, the reputation of this voluntary effort on behalf of Northumberland’s First & Primary Schools is such that there is a waiting list of schools wishing to attend and those who do attend are always asking to be counted back in again.
The largest obstacle to CCD has been and remains access to funding. There is no charge made for schools and pupils to attend the day, their only cost to attend is transport to the event so the complete cost of the day has to be raised each year. The CCD costs approximately £25,000 per year to run, which is sourced annually from local community foundations, grant giving trusts, corporate sponsors and donations, as we are determined to keep to our initial principals that the event should be free for all schools and exhibitors to attend. This allows children from all backgrounds to attend and helps maintain the high standard of exhibitors who continue to support the event.
In 2017 the Society was awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer groups in the UK. The dedication of our volunteers and exhibitors and the learning opportunities they provide to pupils are what makes CCD the wonderful and long lasting success that it is.