December 13th 2011 marked the 10th Anniversary since the Dorset and East Devon Coast was made a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee in Helsinki. Of course, in the context of 185 million years of the Earth’s history, a mere 10 years as a World Heritage Site is a paltry amount, but in human terms, it’s quite a big chunk of time.
To mark the occasion, the 13th December saw a range of events taking place at the coastal museums and visitor centres, or organised by the National Trust, and East Devon AONB team. The chill winds didn’t put everybody off, and many of the museums had lively days at a time of year when they are normally closed; perhaps something to do with the amount of cake on offer. Our huge thanks to all of our partners who put on an event that day – all were appreciated, as always.
These events were followed on the next day by the main ‘birthday’ celebration, the 6th Jurassic Coast Annual Seminar, with, perhaps inevitably, a 10 year theme. We like to try to entertain, provoke, inform and inspire at these events, and the feedback suggested that this year hit all of these. In fact, for the first time ever it was standing room only, which suggests that albeit a fantastic venue, the Lyme Regis Marine Theatre may just not be big enough.
The event kicked off with a ‘10 years in 10 minutes’ presentation by the Team, followed closely by the second year of the Jurassic Coast Award, sponsored by the Fine Family Foundation. This year the focus was on businesses, and out of a shortlist of four, Discover Dorset Tours was the winner – read about it here. It is saying something of his surprise that Tim Sanders (Tim number 1), the company’s founder and director was, for once, speechless.
After this, the event saw the welcome return to Lyme Regis of local boy Tim Badman (Tim number 2). Tim played a major role in making the Jurassic Coast a World Heritage Site, but abandoned Dorset four years ago for the heady heights of Switzerland and the role of IUCN’s Director of World Heritage. Tim talked about the global context of World Heritage and how the Jurassic Coast fits into that, and its potential role as a model for other Sites. So we are looking forward to lots of overseas trips to other Sites paid for by IUCN of course…
Tim was followed by a short interlude – in the form of Tim Brittan (Tim number 3) from performing arts group Forkbeard Fantasy. Tim performed Carbon Weevils live, and if you have no idea what I am talking about go to www.youtube.com
Forkbeard are currently creating a new animated film about the Jurassic Coast in their own inimitable style, so watch this space.
Feeling a little like, “how on earth do you follow that?” Doug Hulyer (not a Tim, luckily) of Natural England stepped up to the mark with a talk about the national role of the Jurassic Coast. Doug was standing in for the Chair of Natural England, and projected his love for this part of the country with passion.
And yes, our fourth Tim of the day was our keynote speaker – Tim Smit, co-founder and Chief Executive of the Eden Project. I had asked Tim to challenge us a little, with the title for his talk being “Jurassic Coast: the next 10 years”. I couldn’t begin to summarise what Tim said, only to report that he met his brief in some style, throwing in one or two bombshells, the odd casual mention of £30million quid, and a couple of serious and real challenges for the future. We hope to be putting all of the talks on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com soon.
All in all, an entertaining, thought provoking, informing and inspiring afternoon, and one which we felt did the 10 years justice. To accompany the event we produced a short report outlining the achievements of the last decade. For a copy of this please either download here or send an A5 SAE to Julia Pulman.
I end with a few words from Prof Deny Brunsden, who thought that because of all of the work prior to designation, it wasn’t the 10th birthday, but the 18th. So perhaps we should now consider that the Jurassic Coast has come of age.