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Annual Forum 2022

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Ben Macdonald

Our annual forum is now open for bookings


Registration is now open for our 2022 Annual Forum This year’s forum is all about ‘working together to recover nature’.  

The forum will be held at the Seahouses HUB on Wednesday 30th November from 12:45 until 4:30pm. The forum is free and includes tea/coffee and delicious locally baked cakes.

Our keynote speaker is author and broadcaster Benedict Macdonald. Ben’s talk is entitled “Keep Britain Messy: Embracing nature by killing our desire to tidy and control” where Ben will explore many of the issues in his brilliant first book – Rebirding.

Following Ben, we have two experts in the field of engaging people with nature. Heather Devey co-founder of Wild Intrigue will talk about how they have involved people from all backgrounds with species conservation, from Bats to Beavers and the Kittiwakes on the Tyne. Clare Freeman, director of the Natural History Society of Northumbria will talk about how the Society are working to find the new naturalists of the future and celebrating the work of naturalists past and present.

The day will be encapsulated by Chris Woodley Stewart, Deputy Chair of the National Association for AONBs following what promises to be a lively and challenging question and answer session with our speakers and guest panel.

Patrick Norris, Chairman of the AONB Partnership said “We don’t talk about nature conservation anymore, we talk about nature recovery because nature is in crisis. Never before have people been so disconnected from natural world around them and unless we can bridge that gap we won’t have the millions of voices we need when nature is under threat. We’re delighted to have Ben Madonald as our key note speaker, Ben will challenge us and along with other speakers inspire us all to do more for nature. It promises to be an excellent afternoon”

There will also be the opportunity to hear about the excellent work of the AONB Partnership including our Coast Care volunteers, Farming in protected Landscapes Programme, a new strategy to deal with parking and transport in the AONB and new design guides for the built environment.

Mid-afternoon refreshments of locally produced cakes will be provided.  Places are free, but limited, so registration is essential.

To book your place visit If you have any queries, please email

Our Speakers

Keynote Speaker - Benadict MacDonald @Rebirding1

Ben is a lifelong naturalist and now works as a conservationist transforming landscapes back to nature, for the Real Wild Estates company. An award-winning author, his first book, Rebirding (Winner of the Wainwright Prize), outlined how we can transform both the farmed and wilderness areas in our country for wildlife, people and create better financial and social outcomes in the process. He has just released his third book ‘Cornerstones’


Chris Woodley-Stewart @NorthPennChief


Chris Woodley Stewart is vice-chair of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Chris has been the Director of the North Pennines AONB Partnership since 2001. In previous roles he has been the Countryside Officer in the Chilterns AONB, run a countryside management project in North East Essex and spent time as a Ranger in Cheshire.



Clare Freeman @clare3freeman






Clare Freeman, is Director of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.  Previously, she has enjoyed roles as a Heritage Coast Ranger, Countryside Officer working with AONB's and Landscape Manager of a 1,700 acre public greenspace estate. Twenty five years working with landowners, farmers, community groups, schools and committed individuals, it is bringing people and wildlife together that she is especially enthusiastic about - 'the real magic happens then, both for wildlife and people'! 

Heather Devey @wildintrigue







Heather Devey is Co-Director of Wild Intrigue, a North East based community interest company devoted to finding fresh ways to “inspire, educate and rewild” in Northern England. From hosting family Bats & Pizza Nights to Newcastle's first Tyne Kittiwake Week, leading beaver reintroduction community consultations and operating wildlife photography hides - connecting people with nature and each other, while developing opportunities for a sustainable nature based economy in The North, is at the core of everything Wild Intrigue does.


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