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Arnside's Eric Shorrocks is wall-out winner
A PROLIFIC dry stone waller from Cumbria has won one of the six categories in the National Trust’s first ever Octavia Hill Awards.
Eric Shorrocks, of Arnside, was nominated for the ‘Love Places Award’ by National Trust ranger Alan Ferguson, who manages the land owned by the trust around Arnside and Silverdale.
Mr Shorrocks’s son, Tony, collected the award at a ceremony in London, which was a specially-commissioned bowl made using English elm, oak and yew collected from woods near Crockham in Kent where trust founder Octavia Hill lived.
Retiring to Arnside from the Land Registry 25 years ago, the 85-year-old former solicitor started volunteering before the National Trust had any of its own staff on Arnside Knott.
From litter picking and path clipping, he and his wife Marnie joined the Wednesday working party — saving precious limestone grassland from scrub invasion.
Finding so many of the walls in a state of disrepair, he set out to learn the craft of dry stone walling. It has been estimated that he has been responsible for the reconstruction of well over 2.5 kilometres of walls in the Arnside and Silverdale areas, largely single-handed.
Mr Shorrocks said: “I can’t understand what all the fuss is about: I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed myself walling all these years. It’s been a privilege to work in such a beautiful area.
“I will retain the title of honorary ‘gangmaster’ and visit the walls occasionally to ensure standards are maintained.”
Over the years, he has trained others through the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) and for the last three years Mr Shorrocks has been the official ‘gangmaster’ of the so called Knotters — a small group of volunteer wallers from the DSWA Cumbria branch, who will continue his work.
“He is an incredible man, very witty and good comp-any,” said Chris Bratt, one of the Knotters. “He has been a joy to work with."
Ranger Mr Ferguson added: “The award to Eric was so justified — everyone who enjoys the Knott owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”
The award was also celebrated by the Arnside Probus Club of which Mr Shorrocks is a long-time member.
He was presented with a plaque and model stone wall, in recognition of his achievement.