What makes the Cotswolds area unique? This is the question that Cotswold school children will be finding the answer to over the next fortnight with a series of linked events designed to encourage them to understand and enjoy the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Red Dog Productions will be working in association with the Cotswolds Conservation Board to inspire children to learn more about the AONB by mixing the pleasure of walking, with educational workshops about Cotswold heritage. Pupils will also have a chance to enjoy the magic of theatre by taking part in a workshop about Red Dog's current touring production, The Merry Wives of Windsor. The children will then go on to perform in an evening production of the play at their school.

The project has been made possible by a £15,000 Sustainable Development Fund grant from the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

Spokesperson for the Board, Claire Cunningham said;

"One of our main aims is to encourage as many people as possible to enjoy the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and what better way to foster communities of people who fully appreciate the area than working with local school children. The Board is delighted that a Sustainable Development Fund Grant has helped to make this project possible."

The guided walks led by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens will allow the children to experience and explore settlement patterns, building materials and styles, grassland and the significance of wool in shaping the Cotswold landscape. The workshops will introduce pupils to peg loom weaving and they will have the chance to create display materials based on the morning's walk.

Pupils will also be given a booklet produced by Red Dog Productions about the landscape and heritage of the Cotswolds.


Notes to editors:

Another major strand to the project: Young Roots Heritage Fund gave £18,000 for Liz Lippiatt, a professional textile designer based in Stroud, to work with students from Shire Training Workshops. The students designed and printed the cloth used to make the costumes for Red Dog's current touring production, The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The students also worked with costume designer Ali Heywood and used wool sourced from a working 19th century woollen mill, (Filkins Mill near Lechlade).

Shire Training Workshops is a registered charity providing housing, training, education and rehabilitation opportunities for young people in Stroud and surrounding districts.

Performance dates are as follows: (Text in bold denotes schools walks & workshops)

Friday 6 July - 7pm Sherborne Primary School, Saturday 7 July - 7pm Stratford Park, Stroud, Monday 9 July - 7pm St Lawrence Primary School, Lechlade, Tuesday 10 July - 7pm Bibury Primary School , Wednesday 11 July - 7pm Wychwood Primary School, Shipton under Wychwood, Thursday 12 July - 7pm St Andrew's Primary School, Chedworth , Friday 13 July - 7pm Winchcombe School , Saturday 14 July - 7pm Thomas Keble School, Eastcombe, Stroud, Sunday 15 July - 5.30pm (doors open 4.45 for hog roast) Blades Cafe, Northleach, Monday 16 July -7pm Temple Guiting Primary School , Wednesday 18 July - 7pm Near Cranham Primary School, Thursday 19th July - Sunday 22nd 2.30 & 7pm July Skillicorne Garden, Cheltenham (behind Town Hall), Tuesday 24 July - Friday 27th July -7pm Woodchester Mansion Grounds , Saturday 28 July - 2.30pm and 7pm Star Anise Café Stroud, Sunday 19th July 7pm, Cogges Manor Farm Museum, Witney.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.

The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens formed in 1968. There are 340 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, part of the Cotswolds Conservation Board. The wardens have been leading guided walks in the AONB since 1975.

Press contact: Kate Abraham, Red Dog Productions: 07971 093397

For more information about Red Dog Productions please visit: www.reddog.org.uk

Claire Cunningham, Cotswolds Conservation Board: 01451 862003

Cotswolds Conservation Board Fosse Way, Northleach, Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk