On Wednesday 18 January the UK branch of the LRE Foundation held its first UK outreach event in Portsmouth, southern England. This was an exciting opportunity to present the UK section of the Liberation Route Europe Hiking Trails project to local stakeholders and potential members, and to hear their feedback. It is the first of three outreach events in the UK this year, with two more taking place in Lincoln and London in the coming months.
The event was hosted by Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and organised by Ben Mayne, Director of LRE UK, and Emme Johnson, Project Officer, LRE Foundation. BBC Broadcaster and Speaker, Dave Sharpe, was MC of the event, and together they presented the LRE Foundation, its partners, work and projects in an interactive and informative session. A key focus was the LRE Hiking Trails project, and after highlighting the progress so far in the trails network being developed in the county of Hampshire, they invited stakeholders to ask questions and discuss how they can be involved.
Following this, a panel discussion between four panellists, each representing a different sector, discussed the benefits of the project, how it can support the local area, and the impact it could have. Sharing their insights and specialist knowledge with the audience, they demonstrated the multidiscipline approach of the Foundation and project, and the variety of interests and backgrounds of those involved. The panellists included:
- Caroline Barrie-Smith, Head of Audience Engagement at Museum of London Archaeology & involved in CITiZAN project on coastal erosion
- Dr Victoria Humphreys, Author & Battlefield Guide
- Ross Fairbrother, General Manager at The D-Day Story Museum, and LRE UK member
- Robert James, Senior Lecturer in Cultural and Social History, University of Portsmouth
The UK section of the LRE Hiking Trails project is still in its initial phases, however the network will cover the North, East and West of Hampshire, and is simultaneously being developed in Lincolnshire. Another outreach event will be held at the International Bomber Command Centre (an LRE UK member) in Lincoln in February, with a third taking place at the Churchill War Rooms in London in March.
“The UK has a lot to offer the Liberation Route Europe Hiking Trail project, and the new routes will enable many people to explore the stunning countryside, fascinating stories, and unique historical sites and museums.”, said Ben Mayne, LRE UK Director, “Designed as a sustainable tourism product, the network aims to help drive positive tourism across multiple counties and contribute to the local economy. We are excited to be progressing with the route and look forward to the exciting developments to come!”