As the Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2013 comes to a close, Landmarc Support Services is pleased to announce Natural Access, a not-for-profit social enterprise, as its first Landmarc 100 recipient following the launch of the scheme at the Hay Festival this summer.

The Landmarc 100 scheme is a new initiative from Landmarc aimed at supporting grass roots innovation in the rural communities around the Ministry of Defence training estate. It aims to provide both financial business support and practical one-to-one guidance to successful applicants, who must present an idea or innovation that can be of benefit to their local community, the Landmarc business or the whole nation.

Natural Access was founded by Richard Clarke and Geoff Brickell from Marlborough, Wiltshire, to enable natural and historic environment groups to collaborate more effectively. Through the use of on-line digital technologies, Natural Access aims to increase the productivity and efficiency of professional and voluntary groups and therefore maximise the outcomes possible from their dwindling budgets.

Important additional outcomes from closer inter-working between the many groups active in this space will be to help preserve key knowledge and content with a Digital Archive as well as to support the promotional activities of all the participating groups with advanced graphical/map-based methods.

Starting with a pilot operation in Wiltshire and the surrounding counties in early 2014, full roll-out nationally will be undertaken on a progressive basis.

Landmarc 100 was launched in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales during his tour of the Hay Festival back in May, describing Landmarc’s distinctive work alongside other national employers in supporting sustainable growth in local, rural communities. Now Landmarc has returned to the winter leg of the festival to announce Natural Access as the first Landmarc 100 recipient.

Steve Utley, Project Director for Landmarc Support Services says “Natural Access was chosen as the first Landmarc 100 recipient as they share Landmarc’s values about sustaining local communities, and because of the benefits the project can bring to rural areas by enabling not-for-profit organisations to promote themselves more effectively online.”

“With budget cuts meaning that the local environment is now often heavily reliant on community groups, the collaboration tools that Natural Access will offer will allow environmental and heritage groups to share information and resources, helping to reduce their costs and to improve their operational delivery.”

Richard Clarke, co-founder of Natural Access, said “Britain is unique in the number and diversity of voluntary groups, trusts and societies that exist to promote and protect the countryside. During these difficult economic times, when there is a significant reduction in public sector funding, the voluntary sector is also suffering. We have set up Natural Access to support these wonderful groups by helping them achieve more through sharing and ensuring that their knowledge and understanding of the countryside is safe guarded.”

Geoff Brickell, co-founder of Natural Access, continued, “Landmarc’s help, both financially and with some business support, is providing us with the critical boost needed to move from a ‘proof of concept’ stage to a system that is ‘ready to use’ with a number of initial pilot participants.”

Visit our Landmarc 100 page to find out more about registering your own ideas for the scheme.