Green fields highlighted by sunrays through heavy clouds from Curbar Edge

#70People70Years - Jo Holliday

Jo Holliday

Jo Holliday, manager of Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre

Jo Holliday is manager of Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre, which is owned and run by the Woodcraft Folk, a youth-led charity.

The Centre, nestled alongside a centuries-old packhorse route off the Snake Pass, offers residential activity programmes to schools and youth groups as well as welcoming adult groups wanting to enjoy the remote and beautiful location.

It is an Ambassador Centre for the Peak District National Park – helping young people to learn more about the national park, how to care for it and how to inspire others about the area’s special qualities. Already leading the way in sustainability, it has ambitious plans to further decarbonise and has been awarded the Peak District Environmental Quality Mark (EQM).

It's a rewarding role for Jo, who has two daughters and lives with her partner in Sheffield, close to the Peak District. She has lived in Sheffield for over 35 years and worked with international students at the University of Sheffield before moving to work with the Woodcraft Folk in 2018.

She says: "I grew up outside the UK as a result of my dad’s work as a telecommunications engineer. My family then settled down south but my family roots were always entwined with the Peak District. My grandfather used to walk in the Peaks with the Bog Trotters, a group from Manchester, and then my dad went on to climb as young lad on the many crags. Now in his late 80s, he still remembers the walk over from Hayfield to Shining Clough, one which I plan to re-create.

"My decision to move to Sheffield (from Barcelona) was largely due to the fact that, on a visit here to see a friend, I was taken out into the Peak District.  At that time (mid 1980s) it was possible to get out to the Peak District very cheaply by bus. It was just 10p to Foxhouse.  Like many people living in Sheffield, I would head to the Peaks at the weekend to do long walks. I then joined together with a group of women in the late 1990s whose passion was (and still is) to run out in the Peaks.

"When the opportunity came to actually work in the Peak District, as centre manager of the Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre, I grabbed it! This is really the best of both worlds – being out in the Peaks and living in the outdoor city of Sheffield."

Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre was established in 1964 by a group of Woodcraft Folk from Sheffield. Jo explains: "They were able to secure grant funding to buy the delapidated farm buildings and cottage and transform it into the magical place it is today.  From the outset, its aim was to bring children from the city out into the countryside, something we still do today.

"My focus is to ensure that, alongside the core work of providing a safe and welcoming place for schools and youth groups to do activity residentials, the centre is able to decarbonise rapidly to meet the challenge of the climate emergency."

The centre is powered by 100% renewable energy for its electricity supply and has plans to replace its current reliance on oil and LPG for heating with other renewable technologies. Water comes from a nearby spring and is UV treated and filtered. All green and cooked food waste is composted and chemical cleaning products have been swapped for plant-filled ones in refillable containers.

While looking to the future, Jo is keenly aware of the legacy of past generations of Woodcraft Folk. "What really inspires me is the huge heritage of the Woodcraft Folk in making it possible for young people today to enjoy the Peak District National Park," she says. "Woodcraft Folk members joined others in the mass trespasses of 1932 - including the largely Forgotten Trespass of Abbey Brook (five months after the Kinder Mass Trespass) - and, in so doing, helped in securing access for all."

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