Former Killhope Museum director wins annual Pendlebury Award

The Pendlebury Award recognises decades of effort for the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Award winner Ian Forbes, centre, with North Pennines AONB Partnership director (left) and Eddie Tomlinson, chairman of the partnership
Award winner Ian Forbes, centre, with North Pennines AONB Partnership director (left) and Eddie Tomlinson, chairman of the partnership

The “inspirational” efforts of a man who played a key role in transforming an abandoned lead mine into an award-winning museum have been rewarded.

Ian Forbes, who ran Killhope, the North of England Lead Mining Museum in Weardale for more than 20 years, is the new winner of the annual Pendlebury Award.

It is presented each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The award is in memory of the late Bob Pendlebury, who was one of the leading advocates of the North Pennines and a champion of its protection.

He was the first chairman of the AONB Partnership following the confirmation of its designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in June 1988.

Ian Forbes started work at Killhope as an information assistant at and in 1988 became its first director.

Under his guidance, Killhope won a series of national and regional awards for tourism, heritage interpretation and education.

He has played an important role in supporting the AONB Partnership’s work to make the area one of the most successful of the UNESCO European Geoparks, which are designated for their outstanding geology.

He has served as chairman of the Weardale Community Partnership and the Weardale Visitor Network and was a founder of The Friends of Killhope.

He retired from Killhope in 2010 and is now a director of the new charity Friends of the North Pennines, which is part of the successful heritage project to restore the Dukesfield Arches near Slaley in Northumberland, which are all that remains of a 17th Century lead smelting mill.

He has been involved in much of the AONB Partnership’s work, including helping to run events and activities and being involved in many projects on the mining heritage of the area.

Ian was award an MBE in 2012 for services to environment and community in the North Pennines.

He was nominated for the award by Paula Martin, science outreach co-ordinator at Durham University, for what she described as “his outstanding contributions to celebrating the North Pennines over many, many years.”

She said: “As director of the Killhope Lead Mining Museum, he transformed the site from an abandoned mine into a multi-award winning museum, conserving, enhancing and celebrating the mining heritage of Upper Weardale in particular and the North Pennines in general.

“Through his work at Killhope and his other roles within the North Pennines community, Ian has promoted enjoyment and greater understanding of the special qualities of the area.

“After retiring from Killhope Lead Mining Museum, Ian’s dedication to understanding and celebrating the North Pennines remains unrelenting, manifested in his crucial role in the formation and on-going vitality of the Friends of the North Pennines.

“ Ian’s joyful enthusiasm for the North Pennines is infectious and inspiring.”

The award was presented at the annual forum of the North Pennines AONB Partnership,whose director Chris Woodley-Stewart, said: “I’m very pleased that Ian’s contribution to the North Pennines AONB over many years has been recognised.

“Looking after our natural and cultural heritage needs as many people like Ian as we can find and it’s right that years of enthusiasm, knowledge and effort can be acknowledged in this way ”

Ian said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been given this award.

“ I was privileged to know Bob Pendlebury for many years and he one of the most supportive people you could ever meet. He was instrumental in the setting up of Killhope in the early years when I worked there so it means a great deal to receive this award in Bob’s memory.”

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