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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Meet the woman behind the campaign to buy Blencathra

A chance remark on a social networking website this week has grown into a major community campaign to try and buy Blencathra.

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MOUNTAIN BID: Campaign leader Debbie Cosgrove with a cloudy Blencathra in the background

Debbie Cosgrove, of Allerby, near Maryport, posted on Facebook that if everyone in Cumbria gave £10 the county could buy the mountain, which has been placed on the market at £1.75 million.

Debbie, a project officer at Allerdale council, said: “There was so much reaction that I started a Friends of Blencathra group on Facebook.”

By yesterday afternoon, 3,788 people had joined the group and Cumbrian mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington has agreed to become the group’s honorary president.

A meeting will be held at 2pm on Sunday at Embleton Village Hall, near Cockermouth, for anyone interested in the campaign.

An agent for the Earl of Lonsdale, who has put Blencathra on the market, has been invited to attend the meeting.

Debbie said: “The number of supporters is growing by the hour. It has just taken off.”

She has appeared on Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime Radio 2 show to talk about the campaign.

Debbie is also trying to organise a meeting with the earl.

She added: “We need to know if he would be willing to work with us, whether he was interested in the idea of selling the mountain to the people of Cumbria and whether the time scale would be flexible if necessary.”

The group said that £10,000 had been pledged already but Debbie wants to set up a trust so that donations are logged properly.

She added: “We have had some really generous offers of money but we are not taking any yet until a trust has been set up.”

Debbie said her experience as a project officer gave her the knowledge to set up a trust.

She said that when she posted her initial comment she was trying to alert people to the sale but did not expect her comment to take off.

She added: “What seemed an idle wish has become possible.

“It has been in private hands for more than 400 years. People are thinking this is a real opportunity.

“People hear about the big society. This is the big society in essence.

“This isn’t about any one person. There are lots of views on how we can do it, but the message is we’d all like it to be owned by the public and not just one individual.”

As well as fund-raising locally she will be applying to various groups to find ways of obtaining grants or loans.

She said the Lake District National Park Authority and the National Trust had both indicated that they did not have the money to buy the mountain, but the Friends of the Lake District had offered support.

Debbie added: “Whoever buys it, the mountain will still be there but we need to make sure that it is there for the people of Cumbria.

“If we own it we are more likely to ensure that it remains in good condition for the future.

“If each of us owns a part of it I am sure we would be much more likely, too, to report problems and find volunteers to correct them.”

Another group, Buy Blencathra, was set up on Facebook by Andy Luke of Leicester. It had 800 members and yesterday he merged it with the Friends of Blencathra website page.

For more information or to find out how to donate to the campaign, email debbiecosgrove@friendsofblencathra.co.uk

Have your say

Friends of Blencathra Is now fully operational and collecting donations. Full details of how you can join in with this amazing project can be found at www.friendsofblencathra.co.uk or Search for "Friends of Blencathra" on Facebook.

Posted by John Fearn on 17 June 2014 at 18:19

the campaign is hoping to be able to start taking donations soon, in the meantime anybody wishing to pledge donations can do so by e-mailing pledge@friendsofblencathra.co.uk

Posted by Friends of Blencathra on 13 May 2014 at 18:22

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