On a quiet day in September, a rumour that Eston hills was being sold off spread like a wildfire on Eston hills! It reached a concerned Grangetown native, Rita Richardson, who along with 3 friends from Eston, Lyn Hewling, Glynis Mahon and Maggie Gavaghan, started 'Save The Eston Hills' facebook group. Suddenly 1000s were joining including me (Craig Hornby, maker of 'A Century in Stone'). People thought that the hills were ALL up for sale and ALL publicly owned. I posted the facts to quell the flames! It was NOT ALL the hills for sale, ONLY the Lazenby Bank site and that it had ALWAYS been privately owned. I also wrote to Redcar & Cleveland Council asking if they had any plans to buy the site. It quickly became obvious that R&C were in no position to buy, even if they wanted to. People half-joked about having a whip-round to buy the site...it seemed mad but how mad was it? To raise half a million to buy half a mountain and have enough change to sort it out and keep it sorted? To have the site actually owned by the public for the first time ever - and forever? ...surely it was worth giving it a go!
HOT OFF THE PRESS
The press were onto us before we even did a press release! It can't hurt when your mate's brother is editor of one of the papers and from Teesville :-) Eighteen of us went up to the Nab at short notice for a photo opp. and articles followed in the Northern Echo, Evening Gazette, Darlington & Stockton Times and on BBC Tees news. It was game on and the FB Group now had over 3000 members...
WE ARE THE F.O.E.H.
With the the land potentially being sold at any moment, we had to get organised and legally set up fast. We met with my mate Jay Jackson who works for community conservation charity Groundwork Trust. Jay advised us to become a constituted community group, as opposed to a registered charity, which is for established groups with £70k turnover. That wasn't us...yet! So we are now officially THE FRIENDS OF ESTON HILLS. We will be operating with an elected management committee and membership will be open to the public for a yearly subscription of £5. Members will be invited to attend our AGM in early 2014 and will gain access to the FOEH members only Facebook group. For info on becoming a member please click here
14.10.13 - HISTORY IN THE MAKING !
Our bank account is open! We chose the Co-operative Bank because it is the only bank with an ethical-policy for environment, offers free banking and actually gives grants of up to £5k for community groups like ours!). Our website with DONATE button is now LIVE! The first ever community campaign to buy part of Eston hills is HAPPENING !