Children’s television presenter Jess French to open Wild About the Wensum event at Pensthorpe Natural Park

Television presenter Jess French, who will be at the Wild About the Wensum event at Pensthorpe Natur

Television presenter Jess French, who will be at the Wild About the Wensum event at Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham. Picture: PENSTHORPE. - Credit: Archant

Television presenter Jess French is opening the hugely popular Wild About the Wensum event at Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham.

Ms French, best known for Minibeast Adventure with Jess, on CBeebies, is opening the hugely popular Wild About the Wensum event on Saturday.

Wild About the Wensum event, now in its 11th year, is held on behalf of Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

The event aims to encourage people of all ages, particularly children, to enjoy the wonderful Wensum Valley and what it has to offer.

Each year there is a different theme connected to the River Wensum and its valley with this year's theme being 'Endangered Species – Children in the Countryside'.

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Wild About the Wensum aims to tackle the fact that sadly less and less children are enjoying the outdoors, which is leading to some developing various behavioural problems and becoming alienated from nature.

Along with education funding cuts, which are forcing schools to spend less time on outdoor activities, we run the risk of the next generation not being able to appreciate and connect with the power and beauty of nature and wildlife.

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So this year the theme of children being missing from the countryside is particularly poignant for the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust to promote using the Park as a giant classroom.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park, said: 'As parents we know that it is up to us to ignite a passion and excitement for the outdoors in our children, from birth, and ensure we play our part in getting them outside.

'Kids can't drive themselves to the beach, the park, the woods or the pay area, so we need to lead by example and encourage them to swap screen time for green time.'

As part of this event Pensthorpe invited 15 local schools to take part in a competition, which will see them decorate life-size child silhouettes that will form an art installation trail around the Park on the day – a fun and inspiring representation of having children back outside.

The competition will be judged by Ms French, who is a nature enthusiast, children's TV personality and qualified veterinarian who has grown up in Norfolk and still lives and works in the county.

The winners will then become Pensthorpe's 'Class of 2017' and be able to contribute to event ideas, provide feedback on park developments and be consulted on a regular basis to help Pensthorpe Natural Park grow into what the next generation want.

Ms French said: 'I was delighted to be asked to open this event and judge the schools trail competition.

'I grew up in Norfolk's wild spaces so it gives me great pleasure to be able to introduce a new generation to them now.

'Outdoor play is vitally important to children's mental and physical wellbeing and I am passionate about encouraging young people to get outside at every opportunity. I can't wait for our minibeast adventure this Saturday.'

This annual event is held to raise money for the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and aims to appeal to visitors who may have never been to the Park before. A special reduced entry price of £3pp*, makes it a really special day and, as always, there will also be stands from local wildlife and nature-based groups and charities connected to the valley.

*There is an additional fee of £3 per child/£2 per adult for entry into Hootz House, Pensthorpe's indoor play area. Time slots and capacity is limited, so entry to Hootz House will be on a first come first served basis. The Pensthorpe Explorer will be running every hour, on the hour, from 11am at a reduced rate of £3pp.

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