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Royal Seal of Approval For New National Forest Sculpture

Monday, 10th December 2007

Royal Seal of Approval For New National Forest Sculpture

A stunning new sculpture in The National Forest received a royal seal of approval recently.

HRH The Earl of Wessex was one of the first visitors to pass through the new iconic entrance way that has been installed at popular Rosliston Forestry Centre in South Derbyshire. The installation is part of the National Forest’s Visitor Infrastructure Project, funded by East Midlands Tourism (EMT).

The structure stands three metres high and creates a tree shaped archway through a log pile frame. The logs used in the sculpture were taken from the woods at Rosliston as part of the necessary management process, and stacked into the mesh frame as it was constructed on site (images available).

Rosliston Forestry Centre was one of the first woodlands planted as part of The National Forest. The land changed from farm to forestry between 1994 and 1996 when 120,000 conifer and native broadleaf trees were planted. Panels within the sculpture explain more on The National Forest and the history of the centre.

During his visit to Rosliston Forestry Centre, the Earl of Wessex met representatives from South Derbyshire District Council, Rolls-Royce plc (principal funders of the environmental education work at the Centre) and the Forestry Commission. He also took a short walk to see part of the 154 acre site including the sensory garden, and talked with some of the many people who regularly use the Centre: the Get Active Over 50s Cycling Group, the Asian Walking Group, bird watchers and representatives from the Weatherby Centre for people with special needs in Derby.

Harminder Banwait of the Asian Walking Group said: "Meeting the Earl of Wessex was a unique experience. Our group has certainly benefited greatly from the development of The National Forest. Our members who take part in the Healthy Walking programme had never visited this area before. Thanks to the friendly and able organisers, we look forward to the days we visit it now. We are all senior citizens and this Programme has helped us to stay fit and healthy.”

Sue Given, Group Leader from the Weatherby Centre in Derby, said: “The group were delighted to meet the Earl of Wessex. They found the occasion quite nerve-racking but he put them all at their ease and was eager to know about the group's activities at Rosliston - walking, gardening and the beautiful mosaic they have created in the sensory garden."

Cllr Heather Wheeler, Leader of South Derbyshire District Council said: “It was superb to have royal recognition for Rosliston. Rosliston Forestry Centre was the first visitor centre to open in The National Forest. Now, it’s not only a magnet for visitors, as the Prince saw, it is also a magnificent location where people can get fitter and healthier.”

Ian Hickman, Forest Management Director, Forestry Commission, said: “Rosliston Forestry Centre was looking wonderful and it was good to see everyone enjoying themselves. It was a pleasure showing the Earl of Wessex around this huge community success.”

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive for the National Forest Company, said: “The Earl of Wessex obviously enjoyed meeting so many different friends of Rosliston. He’s got a genuine interest in forestry and knew all about the importance of trees providing timber and fuel that is good for the environment. I’ll remember him enjoying meeting the eagle and accepting our gifts - two small Christmas trees and our book ‘The National Forest – heritage in the making’. All in all it was a very special afternoon.”

Through the National Forest’s Visitor Infrastructure Project, users of Rosliston Forestry Centre can find out more about The National Forest and how they can explore the area more widely.

Already new information points, which range from shelters, panels and benches to listening posts and touchscreen kiosks, have been installed at Conkers Discovery Centre, Twycross Zoo, Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts, Ashby Tourist Information Centre and in the lay-by beside St Denys Church on the A447 at Ibstock. Sence Valley Forest Park, Snibston Discovery Museum

Other sites that will feature the new facilities include Beacon Hill Country Park, Foremark, Staunton Harold and Thornton Reservoirs, and the new National Forest Youth Hostel. Information points will also be installed at the service areas MOTO Donington Park (A42/M1) and Welcome Break Leicester Forest East (M1).

With EMT’s support, the National Forest Company is working with local tourism businesses and Leicester-based award winning tourism designers, Haley Sharpe, to install the innovative information points for visitors. These will place the venue firmly in the Forest and highlight other attractions available to visitors while they are here.

The work across all venues is due to be completed by March 2008. In the meantime, visitors can find more information on the huge choice of things to do and see in the Forest or places to stay for a brilliant weekend break by contacting the National Forest Company on 01283 551211 or logging onto the website www.nationalforest.org

Supported by East Midlands Tourism.