As winter approaches and the season of goodwill is imminent, I would like to wish you and your families a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
This past year has seen a number of changes within the Wicklow Uplands Council. For those who have not heard, Cara Heraty has decided that she will not return to her position following her maternity leave and will spend more time with her young family. We are very sad to see Cara go and we send her and her family our very best wishes.
Cara worked on a range of different projects for Wicklow Uplands Council for a number of years before taking over the role of co-ordinator in June 2011. In her time as co-ordinator and Executive Manager, Cara worked tirelessly with kindness and determination in managing all our activities and projects. While it is difficult to single out individual achievements, Cara’s work on the Vegetation Management Project was invaluable and will be essential in Wicklow’s bid for a ‘Locally Led Agri-Environment Scheme’. She also played a key role in the establishment of the new Avonmore Way along with numerous other projects over the years. We have a lot to thank Cara for and on behalf of the Board I wish to extend our sincere gratitude and best wishes to her in all her future endeavours.
Brian Dunne, who has been acting co-ordinator in Cara’s absence, has agreed to continue in the role. Brian is a native of Glenmalure with an academic background in environmental sciences. Brian’s combination of local understanding and scientific backing has made him an excellent fit in the role of co-ordinator and we are very happy to have him on board.
The role of co-ordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council is a position as diverse as the uplands itself. Project management, compliance with the governance code, preparation of funding applications etc. are just some of the day to day activities of the job, while also representing the Uplands Council on a number of committees and local forums. Charlotte Rosemond is another new face on our staff, who has expertly filled the role of Communications Officer while Lenka is on maternity leave.
It has been a busy period for the Uplands Council. During the summer Brian and Charlotte set out stalls at the Roundwood and Hollywood Fairs in a bid to promote the work of Wicklow Uplands Council, attract new members and to answer queries from the general public. I am very happy to say that we did gain new members at these events and it is very important that we continue to communicate the work we do to the community in as many ways as possible.
In October a small delegation from the Uplands Council travelled to Switzerland to attend the annual EUROPARC conference. We were invited to present a workshop at the conference titled ‘We are Sustainable Farmers’. You will find more details on the conference and workshop within this newsletter which I hope you will find interesting. It was an achievement in itself to be invited to host this workshop and I want to take the opportunity to thank those who travelled to the conference for representing us so well.
In other news the vision of a long distance off-road trail is getting closer than ever with the establishment of the Sugar Loaf Way and plans are already in place to extend the route in all directions to connect with new and existing trails.
The year was not without sad news and on behalf of the Board I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the late Murtagh O’Keeffe and Pearse Connolly who sadly passed away this year. Murt and Pearse were longstanding supporters of Wicklow Uplands Council and were very well respected Board members always having well informed, balanced contributions, may they rest in peace.
Finally I would again like to thank our Board, members, staff, funders, supporters and those who have contributed in anyway. It is you who enable us to continue our work.
Sean Byrne, Chairman, Wicklow Uplands Council