Alpha Fund Makes Children’s Literary Trail Possible
What better way to get more families and children into the great outdoors than to introduce one of the most popular children’s characters of the last generation? Colin Glen Trust supported by funding from Alpha and with the kind permission of Magic Light Pictures Ltd unveiled one of the sculptures that will take up residence in Colin Glen Forest Park in November. Based on the much loved picture book, The Gruffalo, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, the Mouse character is the first of seven sculptures that are currently being created by Andrew McIntyre. The Gruffalo Trail is due to open in late November and while the finishing touches are applied to the little mouse’s adversaries, he will remain in the Colin Glen Visitor Centre for anyone to visit.
Colin Glen Trust have been supported by Magic Light Pictures, license holders for the Gruffalo, throughout the development of the idea and it was only when they successfully applied to the Alpha Programme, managed and administered by Groundwork NI, that the idea started to become a reality.
Unveiling the first sculpture, Colin Glen Trust Chief Executive, Colin O’Neill stated, “this is an exciting day for the Trust and for me personally. I have been reading The Gruffalo story, and indeed other Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler books, to my two daughters for a few years now and that is where the idea came from. Since we started talking about it as an attraction for the Forest Park the support has been amazing. Daryl Shute from Magic Light Pictures and Mel Waddell from Alpha have both been incredibly supportive. We were delighted when Andrew McIntyre agreed to take on the challenge of recreating the characters for the Forest Park and he has really captured the essence of the story. Children and their parents will just love the opportunity to ‘take a stroll through the deep dark wood’ and follow the journey of the very clever mouse”.
Daryl Shute, Brand Director at Magic Light Pictures added, “It’s fantastic to be bringing the first Gruffalo character trail to Northern Ireland and what better location in which to do so. We’re delighted to be working with the Colin Glen Trust encouraging families to venture outdoors, enjoy the local landscape and get active with this special picture book character. Imagination, adventure and creative play are at the heart of every initiative we run for The Gruffalo brand and we’re looking forward to developing this partnership further.”
“The Alpha Programme is delighted to be involved with this project,” said Warren Bell, representing the Alpha Programme Steering Group. He continued, “The Alpha Programme has supported a wide variety of environmental projects through the Landfill tax scheme and the Colin Glen Forest Park Gruffalo Trail is one that certainly captures the imagination. Undoubtedly it will get more people actively involved in the environment and more people using Colin Glen Forest Park.”
Over the past few years Colin Glen Forest Park has become a hive of activity for all different types of people. It was always known as a stunning park for local people but in recent times it has also become an attraction for families and groups from all over Northern Ireland as a “must see” location. Having introduced SKYTrek, which incorporates a double zip line, power fan descender, climbing wall and high and low ropes course, the Trust continued to introduce more activities including Kayaking, Rafting, Laser Tag, Archery, Orienteering and just last month began to offer Mountain Biking.
“We manage and promote a magnificent resource and we want to get as many people active in Colin Glen Forest Park and our other site Colin Park. We believe in developing as many attractions as possible in order to ensure that as many people as possible can come and enjoy this stunning location. The Gruffalo Trail is just one of the latest projects that will help get more people active and learning about the environment. Colin Glen Trust has been hit hard by the sizeable government cuts over the past few years but we are determined to continually improve the facilities for local people, offer education and training and protect this beautiful facility forever. In order to achieve this we need to create a range of appealing facilities such as this exciting and unique Gruffalo Trail and make it so that people will feel that they must come here”, added the Chief Executive.
Since 2007 the Alpha Programme has provided nearly £3m in funding to 90+ projects for biodiversity and community based schemes within a ten-mile radius of the Mullaghglass Landfill Site. The programme is managed by Groundwork NI and redistributes the landfill tax credits to support great projects and initiatives to create biodiversity or positively impact local communities.