Reflections on Growing the Jurassic Coast Community

Bridport Ambassador Training Day
Bridport Ambassador Training Day

When I first started this job back in the long, bright days of September, it seemed to contain a multitude of strands – our Ambassadors and Volunteers, Business Partners and Friends among others. Each needed its own thinking, planning and organising. What’s become abundantly clear over the last few weeks is how these different elements of the Jurassic Coast Community are intrinsically linked.

I’ve really enjoyed speaking to local businesses in recent weeks – from the about-to-be launched Jurassic Spring to long-standing accommodation providers like Highway Farm, Higher Wiscombe, Golden Acre Holiday Park and Crabbs Bluntshay Farm. Each has their own Jurassic Coast story, their own particular niche and clientele, and their own way of contributing to our Business Partner Scheme. One thing they all have in common is a capacity to benefit from the other elements of the Jurassic Coast community project, most notably our Ambassadors and Volunteers.

In tandem with signing up businesses, I’ve been privileged enough to have met a fantastically varied, charismatic and multi-talented group of individuals who have nominated themselves as Jurassic Coast Ambassadors and Volunteers. Their skill-set is incredibly diverse, and all can contribute something unique to the different projects happening all along the coast.

What’s now coming into focus is how to unite these two groups of outstanding Jurassic Coast representatives. They have so much in common, primarily a love of the coast, and it’s my job to act like an Ammonite-shaped Cupid, bringing them together to create a harmonious coastal community.

Accommodation providers have responded very positively to the idea of offering guided walks, talks and fossil workshops to guests. This is where the Ambassadors come into their own – local experts, passionate about the coast and their particular part of it, and who have had access to training from the Jurassic Coast Team. They can pass their knowledge directly on to coastal visitors in their own uniquely entertaining and illuminating way.
It’s a win-win-win initiative – The Jurassic Coast Team and Trust get our message out about the coast, how to safeguard it, how to keep it clean and accessible to all, and to educate visitors about its scientific importance. Businesses are providing entertainment for their guests, standing out from the crowd and adding value to their offering whilst making a commitment towards the work of a local organisation. Ambassadors get to be just that, ambassadors for this amazing place, spreading a crucial message to a highly receptive audience.

Crucially, our Business Partners’ financial contributions will allow us to continue to operate the Ambassador scheme, to run training sessions and to continue our vital education and conservation work all along the coast. The key is to deliver real value and feedback to partners so they feel personally invested in the scheme and closely connected to our work.
As we are still a relatively small charity finance-wise, just a few key contributions from partners can make a massive difference to our work and the sorts of projects we can deliver. We hope that as the word spreads about what we’re doing, more local businesses will want to get involved. This will mean more Business Partners, so more donations to the Trust, so more conservation and education work and more Ambassadors. After four months of planning, meeting, thinking and writing, the project and its potential is starting to become clear.

If we can keep this momentum going into 2015, the opportunity exists to create a truly community-minded programme that delivers real value back to everyone who loves the Jurassic Coast.

A Very Happy New Year to All,
Guy Kerr

PS – I’d love to hear from you in 2015, whatever your connection to the coast – g.kerr@jurassiccoast.org – Read about our revamped Business Partner Scheme here.

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