On Tuesday, the Year 12 geographers, together with 2 students from Cottingham Campus, enjoyed one of the few fine days of the year to date as they studied rural rebranding and coastal management at Lyme Regis.
The day began with a visit to River Cottage HQ to see one of the prime pillars of the area’s rebranding policy. Dan, the farm manager, gave the students a tour of the animals reared for meat, the chef school and the function suite, whilst explaining the ethos of the organisation which attracts upwards of 17000 visitors in a year. In an age of acronyms they used SLOW to identify their key beliefs of using Seasonal, Local, Organic and Wild foods wherever possible. Dan explained the environmental benefits as well as the boost it gives to smaller local businesses. Students were captivated by the new born lambs and surprised at how quickly a non-free range chicken hits the shelves after birth. Less than 30 days. Clay and Yorke knew a bit about farming and asked some good questions.
Having driven back into town, students walked to the seafront where they were given information on why Lyme Regis needed to rebrand, something reinforced when they studied house prices in the local agents. The task of establishing how many local businesses dealt in food and, of these, how many used any or all of the SLOW components to market their wares, was given to everyone. Students also needed to see the proportion of chain services and shops as opposed to local ones. Matt encouraged everyone to support the local businesses with their lunch trade but inevitably Costa proved a magnet. At least Ketsia, Brittany, Roxanne and Indiana established that it was neither a local business nor used SLOW! The boys split into two groups and Kent and Clay completed their surveys in an outstanding time.
As a follow up to this primary data collection, students surveyed the use of the Jurassic Coast marketing ploy. Secondary data was provided on how much effect the rebranding has had on a local business. This particular B&B’s takings were boosted from around £10,000 to over £100,000 since the advent of River Cottage.
Finally, we looked at the new sea defences east of the town and discussed why they had been built. Apart from the obvious cost benefit analysis, we discovered that it gave better access to the main fossil beds which helped boost out of season tourism, as the winter is the best time to discover newly exposed remains.
I was particularly impressed with the student’s timekeeping, the alacrity with which they undertook the work, the way they accepted each other despite not having previously met (especially the girls, Troy and Yorke), their willingness to thank those who had contributed to the day and the way they suggested answers when questioned.
As usual, expert tuition was provided by Leeson House staff, Matt and Charlotte and grateful thanks are also due to Mr Barry for minibus driving and Mr Smith who drove the 2 students all the way from Chesterfield and back in a day.