New pound in tourists’ pockets to boost Cumbria charities

Date: Tuesday 8th May 2018
Launching the Lake District Pound at Glenridding are (left to right) Steve Curl, chairman of the Lakes Currency Project, Ken Royall, founder, Andy Airey, board director, and Mark Horton, general manager of Ullswater Steamers.
Launching the Lake District Pound at Glenridding are (left to right) Steve Curl, chairman of the Lakes Currency Project, Ken Royall, founder, Andy Airey, board director, and Mark Horton, general manager of Ullswater Steamers.

A NEW currency for the Lake District, which was launched at Glenridding on Tuesday, could raise hundreds of thousands of pounds each year for two Cumbrian charities.

The Lake District Pound (LD£) can be spent in locally-owned and run businesses that have signed up to be part of the footfall-boosting tourism initiative, which will also generate funds for Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.

Ken Royall, founder and director of the Lakes Currency Project, made the inaugural purchase with the currency to buy a ticket to take a steamer across Ullswater, travelling from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge.

Mr Royall said: “First and foremost, we want the currency to create a fun experience which enables both visitors and local people to explore the unique culture of the Lakes.

“At the same time, this will act to raise awareness of our local businesses and drive footfall to them. This will help preserve, protect and promote these individual businesses which are the backbone of our communities.

“Finally, if people choose to keep the currency as a memento of their time here, then this creates proceeds for the company which we will split equally between two fantastic local charities which care for our people and landscape — Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.”

The notes, which come in four denominations ranging from £1LD up to £20LD, feature prominent figures from the history of the Lake District and tell the story of a different aspect of local characters including Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth and John Ruskin, along with landscape imagery.

As part of the launch, the Lake District Pound team and guests took specially liveried Mountain Goat tour buses from Pooley Bridge over Kirkstone Pass on a journey around the county, making purchases with the currency on their way.

The tour culminated in a small street party in Packhorse Court, Keswick, where town businesses came together to celebrate the start of the initiative with champagne and a special LD£ cake baked by cafe owner Laura Johnson, of Laura in the Lakes, who is a big supporter of the new scheme.

Finally, the Lake District Pound team dropped into Theatre by the Lake, where members of Keswick Amateur Operatic Society re-created the LD£ logo using their own bodies and parts of the set ahead of their opening performance of Monty Python’s Spamalot.

While the Lake District Pound can be used interchangeably with and alongside sterling, it can be spent only in locally owned, independent businesses and tourist attractions sporting a sign saying “LD£ accepted here”. Those businesses can then get them converted back into sterling at the exchange points.

Andy Airey, aged 58, of Morland, who is a board director, told the Herald it was planned to roll out the currency county-wide, but towns and villages in the Lake District national park were being concentrated on first.

Mr Airey, a former managing director of outdoor clothing and equipment retailer George Fisher in Keswick, said there were already 25 businesses from Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass that had signed up, along with about 70 in Keswick.

Originally from Threlkeld, Mr Airey, who has lived in Morland for 18 years, believes the Lake District Pound could be a “game changer” for both the Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation with the amount of funds which could be generated.

In total, 18 million people visited the Lake District in 2017 and if every one of the took just one Lake District Pound home with them as a momento of their visit that would generate a vast sum to be split between the two charities.

People can exchange their sterling for Lake District pounds at a number of exchange points across the region, including at most post offices. They can swap the notes back before the end of their holiday or send them back to the Lakes Currency Project, which will redeem them electronically.

New currency design will be released each year and be valid until 31st January. However, the new designs will be available from the beginning of December, creating a two-month overlap each year so people can exchange them or swap them for the next year’s designs.