The Cumbrians standing up for their communities

With the economy still in the doldrums and no immediate signs of real improvement, it might be forgivable for people to hunker down and simply look after themselves.

But there is plenty of evidence that people in South Lakeland, Furness, Eden and north Lancashire take a wider world view than that.

It might demonstrate itself in trying to protect their immediate environment. Hundreds of residents in the Hallgarth area of Kendal, for example, are campaigning against a developer’s bid to build 30 ‘affordable homes’ in Kendal, which they fear will spoil the character of the area.

At Windermere, there has been plenty of debate - both pro and con - about the arrival of the new M local Morrisons store in the town. Some have welcomed the retail outlet as offering greater choice; others fear it could harm the trade of existing small businesses.

At Oxenholme, Bill Riddell, who runs the local post office and shop, poured thousands of his own retirement money into the business because he wanted to provide a service for local residents. Sadly it is now under threat because it is not making enough money.

Robin Le Mare, of Allithwaite, has just returned from Somaliland, where electing officials is still in its infancy. He paid his own way to be a volunteer with the international election observ-ation team during local council elections - checking procedures and ensuring there was no vote rigging.

And this week two women who have made their mark on South Lakeland and Eden were rewarded for their dedication to the region and its culture. June Hall, a textile tutor, organiser of countless events including Woolfest and vice-chairmn of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, was named Cumbria Woman of the Year. Renna Kellway, who set up the Lake District Music Festival, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the same ceremony.

Whatever their reasons for getting involved, all these people are to be commended for showing community engagement.

They care about their community - be it the Lake District or Somaliand - and are prepared to stand up, have their say and play a part to protect or improve it.

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