Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NationalTrust Champion to Follow in Footsteps of Pilgrims

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NationalTrust Champion to Follow in Footsteps of Pilgrims

Article excerpt

Byline: TONY HENDERSON Environment

MORE than 20 years ago Oliver Maurice set off on a 285-mile walk to highlight the special places in the North East which were cared for by the National Trust.

Accompanied by two colleagues and Northumberland film-maker Charles Bowden, Oliver walked the boundaries of the trust's Northumbria region.

The trek started at The Leas in South Shields, then the County Durham coast, Alston, Hadrian's Wall and the Cheviot Hills and the Northumberland coast back to Newcastle. Now on Monday, having just celebrated his 70th birthday, Oliver is on the march again.

He will be tacking the English Way - a pilgrimage route in northern Spain.

And once again the aim will be to raise awareness- and funds - for the conservation principles and values covering the natural and built heritage embraced by the National Trust. These have been central to Oliver's life since the 1970s, when he started work for the trust as a land agent in the Lake District.

From 1984-92, he was trust regional director for Northumbria. During that time, the trust bought five miles of County Durham coastline when collieries were still tipping waste on to the beaches.

"The beaches were black but we took the view that when the collieries stopped, once again there would be a beautiful coastline," says Oliver.

Also under his guidance, the trust launched its inner-city project, based in Walker in Newcastle.

The aim was to take youngsters into the countryside who would otherwise not have such experiences.

A group of older people, the Walker Walkers, were also part of the project.

At the same time the Armstrong energy project was set up at Cragside in Northumberland and what had been Lord Armstrong's private garden was acquired.

Oliver then became regional director for the North West, retiring in 2002. But that did not mean he was finished with the cause.

He set himself up as a heritage consultant and offered his expertise, on a voluntary basis, to countries who wanted to develop or establish their own National Trust-style organisations.

Oliver helped launch the Bali Heritage Trust and also travelled to places such as Fiji, Malta and Barbados to nurture trust-based bodies. …

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