Sarah Beeny follows a passionate group of locals trying to rescue their community. The residents of Newstead turn a disused mining pit tip into a country park.
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The British countryside.
With green valleys, wild mountains, rolling farmlands and forests,
the landscape is as diverse as it is beautiful.
Many dream of escaping to the simple country life.
But for those who live in rural Britain,
it's a different story.
Traditional industries are in decline
and across the land,
local shops, pubs and farms,
the very cornerstone of country life,
are closing at an alarming rate.
It just seems that the heartbeat of our green and pleasant land
is fast disappearing.
This was a really vibrant shopping street
and now we've got one pub left and that's it.
You need to keep these places safe and secure for our children to come and enjoy.
The one thing the countryside has going for it
is the people who call it home.
But what if locals were able to take matters into their own hands?
What if groups of volunteers were given a load of money
to turn their dreams into realities
and put the spirit back into their communities?
We're only going to succeed in this project
if we involve as many people from the community as possible.
Good service, what good service.
With just 12 months to pull it off,
putting their villages back on the map is not going to be easy.
-I just know we're going to have battles every step of the way!
-I have no building experience whatsoever.
-What a shambles.
But the results might just be spectacular.
It's the biggest chance we've ever had to do something amazing.
It's a big ask...
but it could work.
Will people power be enough
to turn around the fortunes of a mining village?
-If everyone gets together, it will benefit everyone.
-It's like a lifeline for everyone.
The sooner we get it up and running, the better, really.
Or will their ambitious plan leave them in the pits of despair?
Most of the area is now mud. It's going to be covered in water.
We've worked really hard to get to this point.
-It's amazing that people have stuck with this.
-It's hard work - sweating.
It's pretty shocking news, frankly.
It is a big disappointment.
Where have we gone wrong?
Nottinghamshire is made up of 850 square miles of countryside,
attracting 18 million visitors a year.
With grand country estates, industrial heritage,
and the folklore of Robin Hood at its heart,
the tourist industry is thriving.
Just 10 miles away from the city of Nottingham is Newstead village.
Its inhabitants are surrounded
by some of the county's most beautiful scenery.
Newstead's glory days were when the mining industry flourished,
providing full-time employment for most of its locals.
In the late 1980s, that changed for good
when mines around the country were shut down.
When the Newstead colliery shut in 1987,
it left this place on its knees.
With no local industry to support it,
many people became unemployed.
Anyone here would admit that there was a bit of a struggle, really.
A lot of people don't work and there's not a lot of money.
All the young ones, they all just hang around at the local shop.
There's a lot of abuse up there, you know.
'One person who understands the effect the loss of mining has on the village
'is 49-year-old charity worker and ex-miner, Mick Leivers.'
The pit was a bit like a parent, really, it took care of everything in the village.
Where do you start?
It's not that easy to pick up the pieces when everyone's out of work. It's a real struggle, isn't it?
'Mick's charity helps local young people by teaching them fishing.'
We were very interested in engaging them in the local community as well as education.
It's really important to have young people on board if you're going to do anything in a village.
Now Mick has a big plan to put Newstead back on the map.
On the edge of the village is a 220-acre site known as the pit tips,
once used to dump mining waste.
The ponds built for washing coal still remain
and Mick wants to use them to create a country park.
Mick plans to transform the bottom pond into a fishing lake
to make an income from year-round angling membership.
The dream is to have a state-of-the-art visitor's centre -
a multi-use building,
which could be a hub for local activities and businesses.
Newstead already hosts a free annual music festival.
The plan is to also stage a commercial event
with big-name bands to attract paying music revellers.
Any profits would be used to further develop the park.
When you walk down these terraces of houses,
you get a sense of what it must have been like
when this was a thriving mining community.
There would have been social clubs and doctors' surgeries and shops - all paid for by mining.
Hopefully, what mining left behind
will end up being the next generation's future.
Mick and a team of dedicated volunteers
have put in a bid to the Big Lottery Fund
for a grant designed to help rural regeneration.
And today the community is gathering to find out if they have been successful.
Mick shares his passion and dream
with local plasterer, Mark Waterhouse,
who has lived in Newstead for 25 years.
Rather than just sitting here, and saying,
"Well, this is what we've got, and we haven't got anything, blah blah blah,"
we're trying to make a difference.
The other key member of the team is Penny Altham,
who works for the same charity as Mick in Newstead.
If they get the money, she'll help run the country park.
We want to turn people's lives around and give them new skills.
I'll to do whatever is needed for this project.
If that means hours and hours of my time,
then that's what I'll do to make sure that it's a success.
One phone call will now decide the fate of this deprived village.
-There we go! Hello?
-'Oh, hello, is that Mick?'
'You'll appreciate what a tough job the committee's had trying to decide which of the villages to...'
-'There's a lot of money at stake, so, er...
'In your case, Mick, it is good news. And er...'
CHEERING AND WHOOPING
Ooh! All that work!
The meetings start tomorrow.
-We've got to develop a country park!
Best News ever. Fantastic. Made it all worthwhile.
It's been an incredibly positive day for Newstead,
because it has finally brought to fruition our work.
The project will start and is really going to put us on the map.
The people of Newstead will aim to turn their dream into a reality over the next year.
I've been waiting for work to be done on this area for quite a while.
It's the biggest chance we've ever had to do something amazing.
For people who might be out of work or struggling,
to have somewhere where you can expand your horizons, boost your CV,
it's got to be a good thing.
But they won't be alone...
One of the conditions of the £430,000 grant
is that the village employs outside help.
Jules Thistleton-Smith is a co-founder of a London PR agency
and will take a leading role in the festival,
whilst her architect husband Anthony
will design the country park's visitor centre.
We've been very fortunate, in that we've both been quite successful in our areas of business
and actually, you know, there's still a lot more that we could do.
But is there something else that we could do with that expertise, that we're not doing at the moment?
Together, along with their three year-old son Gordon,
they'll move to Newstead and work on the project for one year.
The scars of the miners' strike, the scars of the closure are still there in the village
and the legacy of the coal mine is ever-present, in terms of the pit tip surrounding it.
It's great to be able to take that and do something wonderful with it.
It's a huge ambition,
but before the mentors can even move to the village,
decisions must be made.
Jules has come to Newstead to plan the festival,
which is scheduled for September.
She's meeting with Mick, project leader Penny, and local volunteer Sharon to discuss the line-up.
These are all the different bands that we're in conversation with.
They plan to use £80,000 from their Big Lottery grant
to fund the festival.
The only thing that I go, "Ooh!" about
is the fact that we always talked about
having a fairly small, simple festival.
And I know there's monetary sides
and it's about making it as a business decision,
but are we potentially just losing sight of something being kind of simple?
-Are we taking on too big a thing? That's all I'd say.
-We're actually making it easier for ourselves,
because if we've got a big name,
it's easier to shift tickets than with a name that isn't really a draw.
It could help support that transition
-from, you know, colliery village and brass band, to moving on.
'The festival is only one part of the business plan.
'The country park and visitor centre
'will be the location for a host of outdoor activities.'
I mean, obviously it's a lovely piece of land to walk around,
but is your primary motivation to try and keep it as it is,
or is your primary motivation to do more than that?
I think it's to do a lot more than that. Cos, I mean, for me,
the whole essence of it is creating a true community green space that is about the local community,
It's not a local authority owned area,
it's an area that the community can run.
Talk me through the overview of exactly what you're planning on doing on this amazing site.
The two big things are the visitor centre and landscape works.
It's about developing fishing lakes, but not just that.
We'll create a variety of habitats in them.
These have gone from being ponds which filtered out the waste from the pit,
to becoming what we think will be a really nice amenity.
Our aim is to have something that we can retain the open access,
so it can be used by people,
but it can be used to encourage this sort of thing elsewhere.
Whilst I love all the things that you're doing, you need to have enough going on here
-to make it a destination for people, really, don't you?
There'll be all sorts of interesting things.
Although we're talking about the key projects, and putting the infrastructure in place,
-we are mindful that we are going to do other things.
-A load of other stuff.
What enormous great fun!
'The first big activity will be the festival,
'in just three months' time.'
But the aim is for the festival to be,
at this stage, the prime income generator.
What happens if you don't sell enough tickets for the festival?
Glastonbury wasn't a successful festival
for the first half of its legacy.
-If it works, it works. If it don't work...
-You've done your best.
-We've done our best.
'As if setting up a festival and opening a country park isn't ambitious enough,
'a major part of the plan to regenerate Newstead
'is to provide training to the local young people.'
Newstead's a little mining village, it ain't got nothing. This will kick it off.
I'm on Jobseeker's at the minute. I'm hoping to get a job out of it in the end.
Maybe get some decent qualifications out of it.
It's a lifeline for everyone in the village.
Although the work will be voluntary, they will gain qualifications.
Mick and his colleague Lesley are the main co-ordinators.
What qualifications do we get out of it at the end?
Your fencing OCN, part of the countryside management,
What you put into it is what you're going to get out of it.
We're going to be doing the building, doing all the fencing and hedging.
We're going to create the lakes and we want more young people to get involved,
because we want you guys to end up running that.
It is really important for the village,
cos if we can make this work and bring in money from the different activities
there will be some paid roles as well
so it will not all just going to be volunteered stuff.
It's a rare opportunity for the young people in the area.
If the mine was still open then everyone - even us, probably -
would have a job in the mine.
-It's hard, isn't it, really? When you look at it.
-Yeah, it is hard.
I mean, when the mine closed,
there was a lot of people that lost out in jobs
and found it really difficult to get other employment.
20-year-old Ashley Day works for Mick's charity,
and will be heavily involved in the project.
He's eager to see his mates help out, too.
Even if you do voluntary work,
voluntary work ticks loads of boxes when you apply for a job.
If you say you've done voluntary work, it looks like you're committed.
Once the park develops, there will be more jobs, won't there?
The work that 19-year-old Chris Bateman carries out on the park
could be the lifeline he needs.
I left school with not really anything.
And when the pit tip's done, then maybe it will make jobs.
For now, it's not paid work,
but nonetheless, they're all willing to commit to the project.
If you always live, thinking "It's not going to happen,"
then you never even try to get something, you ever try to do that...
The sooner we can get it up and running, the better.
The time has come for Jules and Ant
to say goodbye to their life in London.
Jules is six months pregnant and the enormity of moving her family,
including three-year-old Gordon, is dawning on her.
It is really hitting home
that we are making a major change in our lives.
We are giving up an extraordinary amount, to be honest.
It is not just us, it's, um,...
..it's Gordon, too. So, yeah...
You know, it's an adventure. It really is an adventure.
A project of this scale will rely on more than just the village youth to pull it off.
The whole community will be needed over the next year.
Jules and Anthony will now live and work in Newstead for the next year
to help deliver its festival and country park.
Today, project leader Penny is preparing a welcome party for Jules and Ant
where she hopes to sign up volunteers.
There's five different areas.
I've got promotions, safety, event crew, creative and country park.
The whole project is built on community participation,
on getting loads of people involved with new skills.
So we have to make it work, and if it doesn't work today,
then we've got to find another way of finding people.
Jules and Ant have arrived at their new home
in the heart of the village.
And with the community waiting to welcome them at the pub,
Ashley and Chris lead an army of local labour.
There's quite a lot of us now that's come down to help.
But that's what we're here for - helping them feel welcome in the village.
Typical of what it's like around here - everybody will help everybody. A good community spirit.
But all this kindness from strangers
is a bit much for our hardened Londoners.
What's really disarming is that everyone's so upfront,
because we're used to everyone being very...
Even if they are asking questions, it's very cushioned,
But they straight out ask what we're doing,
someone's already asked us how much we paid for the house.
It's quite refreshing - but a bit disarming.
It's a long way from the lives they're used to
and a huge commitment.
A commitment not just from them, but the whole community.
Guys, thank you so, so much for coming today.
Ant and I have literally just moved in to the village
and we're only going to succeed if we involve as many people from the community as possible.
So, please, help. We've got loads of roles still to fill
and sign the volunteer forms and let us know how you can get involved.
We've got two extremely talented people here who were going to make a big difference.
It's really flattering for this village that they chose to come here. Thank you.
Anyone who signs up to help can come to the festival for free.
-I have signed up for litter picking.
I am going to be doing litter picking in the evening.
Nearly 40 villagers have signed up to volunteer the festival -
it's a promising start.
It may be their first morning in Newstead,
but Jules has been working on the festival for weeks.
Tickets are already selling online
and although Jules has confirmed Ash as a headline act,
she's now busy finding other bands.
We've got to announce the final line-up,
and I'm hoping to be able to do that early next week.
The team have called the festival Headstock,
the name given to the old pit wheel,
with the aim to link the festival to Newstead's mining heritage.
I don't know how you guys feel about these logos.
-That's slightly different, isn't it? The...
This is more simplified. We've obviously kept the Headstock.
As work forges on and the flyers are printed,
the buzz around the festival in the village gathers.
People think it's a shame that the Treefest has finished,
because it's always been a free concert.
I hope the new Festival is going to be the same as,
or better, than the free festival that we used to have.
People have to pay for festivals. If they're not paying to go to it, someone's paying to put it on.
Just one week into life in Newstead and things aren't quite going according to plan.
Ticket sales has to be my number one priority. We have got 158 tickets.
We've got four and a half weeks to go till the festival,
and that literally makes my heart race, if I'm honest.
We need a major, major push.
It's also a difficult time for the build.
They had hoped to start construction next month, but there's a problem.
The land is bursting with rare wildlife
so the planners want it to be ecologically tested before they will grant permission to build.
It's an old industrial site.
We had not really expected that there would be quite such a concern over the ecology of the site,
but the amount of information that the local authority require in order to process that application
is quite significant.
The delay means building in winter,
but Ant would rather wait until spring.
We've started to question the whole wisdom
of building a site like this into winter.
The logical way to build a building like this is into the summer
so that we get the best weather at the end of the build
and make sure that the finishes are put on at the time that's most appropriate.
Volunteer Mark is planning to play a leading role in the build when it starts.
For me to now feel as though
we're not going to be building until the other side of winter is...
You know, it is a big disappointment.
-'Ant must now break the news to Jules.'
-The project is delayed.
-So I know that's disappointing.
I mean, I know... You know...
(CLEARS HER THROAT) Delayed till when?
I think we are looking at six weeks
before we can reasonably get any kind of planning application in.
What we have got is the planning officers and all of the specialists on the local authority side
are now working to fast-track what we're doing.
-When are you going to start building?
-We're going to start in February.
Yeah, it's pretty shocking news, frankly.
There's too many risks
and the potential for us to showcase a building disaster is, I think...
Would be quite great if we went to this way.
So I just need to have a look at it.
I know I don't look it, but I'm exceptionally disappointed.
We were meant to start building in a month.
It's a big blow and could mean the building won't be open in time for the tourist season.
-Why can you not start? I want you to start right now.
-I do, but...
if we start building now,
we'll be doing delicate finishes in October, November,
-and it's just not feasible...
-But in reality,
you might get a terrible bit of weather in March and April, with six foot of snow.
-The sooner it's up, the sooner you'll get some money.
-I totally agree.
-It's one of the problems...
-But, we've decided, though.
-OK. Well, you can build.
And then when I come and stand over your muddy hole in the ground in November, I'll go, "I did say."
But you have to make a reasoned decision on the basis of the information you have.
It's incredibly vulnerable to the weather. So whatever we do, it'll be a risk.
So when are you going to build it?
Well, we're going to be on site in January-February.
Tell me, how is the festival going?
Ticket sales, to be honest, not doing well at the moment.
We're three weeks from the event.
So there is a massive mountain to climb.
-How many have you sold?
So you're a bit nervous, but...
You're still not despairing of it.
It's an amazing event. You would pay more than £20 to see Ash alone,
and the line-up is sensational.
So it's really just about getting people to hear about it,
and to know about it.
PR is Jules' business,
so she's putting Operation Ticket Sales into overdrive.
Crazy-busy on Headstock Festival.
We've got Ash, who are headlining. Over 100 volunteers signed up...
But she's not alone, the whole community is in promo mode.
-Hello, I'm Sarah.
You're the President of the WI.
We'll work with the children making the bunting
and the flags and things.
Can I give you a leaflet?
Can you explain to me, what are you doing?
We're building the wheel, something that was on the pit many years ago.
The Big Lottery Fund were looking for six villages in Britain, and seemed to like the plans we had.
There you go.
We'll have more about the Headstock Festival
on East Midlands Today at 6.30 this evening.
Ashley and Chris must now become novice press officers.
Newstead is hosting such an event,
tell us why it's so special for the area.
The name of the festival, Headstock, that's in relation to the pit.
It's bringing the whole village together
and it's what the village needs.
Get your leaflets here today!
It's got a bit of interest. I'll start dishing them out,
explaining what exactly we're doing, what Headstock is about. Time to get started.
We're getting a really good response now.
-All right, sir? Could I interest you in a leaflet?
-We didn't know it existed, until now.
-Big cheer - three, two, one...
Come to Newstead!
Good luck on the big day.
The community has put their heart and soul into a PR drive.
The team aim to sell 1,500 tickets
and with the festival now four days away
everyone is gathering to hear an update.
We've distributed, in total, about 35,000 flyers
Last week... We've probably got, in total, 200 media hits
online and in the regional press.
Despite their best efforts, it's not good news.
Ticket sales are...
Which is really a bit gutting at this particular juncture.
We're getting it out there,
the frustrating thing is it doesn't seem to be translating into selling tickets.
I find it frustrating we haven't sold more.
None of us expected to be here on the Tuesday before the festival,
having sold in the region of 600 tickets.
It could've been better. But, you know,
I'm still confident that a lot of people are going to turn up on the day.
Where have we gone wrong?
There's no pulling out, the money has been committed.
All the village can do now is hope that the crowds turn up on the day.
So it's all hands to the pump to get the site looking like a festival.
It's all right, I'll do it myself(!)
The festival gates open tomorrow,
it's been a mammoth achievement organizing the event,
but the stress of the ticket sales is overwhelming.
-Ticket sales are standing now at just under 700.
-Just under 700.
Which is not where we expected to be now.
On the day, how many do we need to sell on the gate to break even?
Realistically, between 1,200 and 1,500 -
depending on what ticket types there are -
we need to have through the door tomorrow.
So that's a big ask, I think.
So, worst-case scenario,
-we're looking at potentially losing 30,000?
If we have an absolute shocker tomorrow.
It is gutting to be sitting here at this stage, the day before...
Hey, baby, come here.
That's not much of a hug.
I want a proper hug, come on.
-It'll be OK.
-I feel like I've let everybody down.
You haven't. This looks fantastic.
Anyone who comes here tomorrow will have a great time, I know that.
Imagine if you're one of only 400 people here looking at Ash!
-It's like a private concert!
-Amazing! It's amazing.
The festival starts in just one hour, so every minute counts.
-Pluck-a-duck, coconut shy...
-Cake stalls, there, yeah.
We don't have any tables and chairs on the wristband exchanges.
So you're fully staffed down there now?
What a shambles.
At 10am the gates open to the first few punters.
The hope is that at least 1,500 people will pour in
by the end of the day.
Kicking off the first ever Headstock is the Newstead Colliery Brass Band.
MUSIC: "Cry Me A River"
Playing to an audience of, well, 31.
But it's still early.
Thankfully, by early afternoon, partygoers arrive thick and fast
and the site looks much more like a festival.
But any enjoyment of the festival for its organizers is tainted
by the ongoing pressure of ticket sales.
I've just checked tickets so far.
We've erm... We've collected about two grand.
But that's the second collection and including my bit.
As long as we break even with this, and we've set some foundations
and we've got people coming along who will go away and bring their friends next year,
we'll have had a really good event.
We've done a good job of publicising it, so I think every little helps. We're getting there.
# To prove to everyone
# That I exist... #
As the day wears on,
the hope is that more people will arrive to see the headline band, Ash.
No festival is complete without a headline act,
with a luxury dressing room and an onslaught of groupies.
But Ash will have to make do with the Newstead WI,
who have baked them some cakes.
-Let's have you out!
-Come on out, guys! Hi!
-Come on, Tim!
-How're you doing? What have we got?
'The ladies have got lead singer Tim Wheeler
'right where they want him -
'eating a slice of fruit cake.
'And it's going down well!'
-This is good. This'll give us good energy.
-Yeah, for the show.
Have you guys have got a dressing room of your own?
No! We've got a tent.
At 9.30, the crowd for the headline act looks impressive.
CHEERING AND WHISTLING
Welcome to the stage...Ash!
Tomorrow, the community will be eager to count the takings,
but for now, the festival has shaped up to be a great experience.
-It's just such a good atmosphere.
-But to do it for something which is so worthwhile
is absolutely brilliant.
Looking round so far, I think it's been a cracking little day
and I'm really pleased with the way it's gone so far.
I'm really proud of you, baby.
I'm really proud of you.
Thank you so much! Cheers, good night!
WHISTLING AND APPLAUSE
With the festival hangover pounding,
it's time for the team to assess the money.
But after a final count,
sadly, the first ever Headstock Festival has made a loss.
Without the updated expenditure, we're about, at the moment...
just under 30,000 short on the festival.
Some of the feedback's been, like, "The ticket price was measly."
I thought - I might be wrong - I don't know how we sold the tickets and I don't know what the split was
but it seemed to me there were quite a lot of people there
who were local people or Treefest people,
and I still don't feel we attracted that wider audience.
We will get through it. We definitely will.
I am still personally gutted.
The whole point of this is to make a sustainable business.
We will still do that, but it is going to be so much harder to do that given where we are now.
Everything now hinges on the build.
As late summer gives way to autumn, then winter,
there's no sign of planning permission.
For Jules and Ant at least, by November, there's some good news.
So would you like to introduce us to Newstead's newest resident?
Are you going to say hello?
As Newstead's latest resident settles into her new home,
business is never far from her parents' mind.
Sort of, I guess, halfway through the project.
We've had Headstock, but there's so much more to do.
Obviously, the build is just about to start,
as soon as the snow's gone.
And, of course, we've got to start working on the country park
and getting all that up and ready for when the build's ready.
'As the new year arrives,
'the volunteers are eager to move back onto site.'
It's really disappointing that after so much hard work, the festival didn't actually make any money.
So I'm here today to find out just how they hope to get it back on track.
'So with the festival that came and went, it wasn't...'
I mean, it was fantastic, because there was the community,
everyone enjoyed it and you all got together,
but it didn't quite make the money that you were hoping it was going to make, did it?
That's really hurt us, there's no doubt about it,
and it's led to sleepless nights on all of our parts, I think.
The hard financial reality is that we didn't make a profit in year one.
To me, setting up a festival, you attract a group of people.
You create a crowd of people who come and enjoy that event and come back next year with their friends.
I think, the first few years,
you've got to tolerate not being financially successful
and it put us on the map, as well. It established us as a festival and that was important.
So you've learned from that, moving on,
and now about to start the build.
I have to say, that being part of the build team,
I'm really champing at the bit now to get something going.
We've had the festival, we've had the winter - we're now ready to go.
I've been looking at that lake and that site for months now
and waiting to get something on it.
We're a couple of weeks away from planning permission.
-That's been a year-long process.
-So you need to shift it now, don't you?
Get this building up and finished and... So you can actually get on.
Next time, I'm bringing my fishing rods. I'm hoping you're going to teach me.
-Come in March and bring a sledgehammer and you can put in some tyres.
The delay on planning permission won't dampen spirits,
and work on the country park is well under way,
thanks to Ashley and the lads.
What do you think it's that changes someone to make them think,
"I won't lie in bed and watch telly or play on the Xbox"?
If you can give someone the opportunity to work on something
and then they take credit from that, whether it be qualifications, just self-confidence,
that's all that they need, really.
'Volunteer Chris is committed to gaining his Open College qualification.'
What do you reckon the alternative is,
if you didn't come down and help?
I'd be sat about on the street, on a corner or something.
You know what I mean? Dossing.
What do you think you get out of it?
Some things that we're learning out here, doing pathways and stuff, putting fences in,
It's something I've seen done but I've never done it myself.
So now I'll be able to learn how to do it
and maybe it'll progress into a job,
I'll get a job out of doing something like this.
I think it's really impressive that you're out here. Good for you.
A few weeks later,
Ant and Penny finally get the news they've been waiting months for.
OK, brilliant. Thanks very much for all your help, Nick. Bye-bye.
-We got consent.
Come on. THAT was hard-fought.
Work can at last begin on the visitors' centre.
Trouble brews immediately.
Unsteady mining spoil means much more money than expected must be poured into the foundations.
Thankfully, Mark and an army of volunteers
are on hand to build the main structural wall,
which will be made entirely from old tyres filled with spoil from the mine.
What we're digging out and ramming back into our wall
is the waste product of the mining industry that sort of kept our communities alive.
We're actually building a visitor centre on our country park
out of a waste material that some of our fathers and grandfathers spent their lives working with.
As work begins,
the sense of Newstead's community spirit is strong.
Every block for the future is grounded in their history.
Getting the community together, just giving it a go, really,
and just to see how they actually do build it.
Because you never know - this could be the future.
It's better than sitting at home.
Come out, get warmed up, get involved.
I'm just here purely for the experience, really. Maybe get a job!
We're both in our 70s.
I'm 72 and my husband will be 74 at the end of the month,
so we love doing anything like this.
My dad was a mechanical fitter at Newstead Pit
and my uncle and his father worked here as well. My grandfather was a deputy at Newstead Pit.
so there's been quite a mining history in my family.
To do something productive with the area
and bring something back to the community
will help out quite a lot.
As always, the local youth are out in force,
including Ashley and Chris.
It's hard work, but it's all come together. It keeps you going, seeing all the volunteers.
It's a learning curve for everyone.
It's the first time I've done it and the first time a lot of people have,
because there's not many builds like this.
If everyone gets together, or certain people get together, it'll benefit everyone.
It's hard, trying to find work.
It's really hard.
It's a pretty gratifying sight. I'm very pleased.
It's not a particularly nice day today, but we've got a full complement of people.
And whenever I pictured this, I always had this image in my head of some sort of Hollywood epic,
the building of the pyramids, Ben-Hur or something,
and it's not quite the building of the pyramids, but it's not far off.
We've got a good crowd of people and the wall's coming up nicely. We're very pleased.
At the end of a gruelling day,
the first 180 tyres are filled,
but it's not quite Ant's pyramid yet.
The community must fill 1,200 tyres in total,
each one requiring muscle and sweat.
Over a hundred volunteers have signed up,
determined to take the building to the next stage,
when contractors will make the structure watertight
with timber and glass.
With the site looking so muddy,
it's hard for the team to visualize a finished country park.
So today, Mick and the lads are off to meet Jules and Ant in North Yorkshire.
We're going to look at another park that I guess, although I don't know all about it,
does similar things to what we're hoping to achieve at the country park Newstead and Annesley.
It's important to get the lads involved from the beginning.
Because they're going to carry this on, it gives them a real sense of ownership -
it's theirs, they're going to do the work on it.
At some point, we'll be too tired to carry on. These guys will carry this forward.
They're visiting Kilnsey Park, which also has a visitor centre
and lots of park attractions, including fishing.
In Newstead, Mick and the lads have planned coarse fishing,
for serious anglers.
But Kilnsey is geared much more towards families.
Dangle this bit in the water to start off with.
-Have you fished before?
There you go, well done!
And there you go, that's your fish.
What do I do, what do I do?
With two lakes at Mick's disposal back in Newstead,
it seems an attractive proposition.
The economics of it - it's £6 a rod and you pay for the trout as well.
So the trout are all paid for, they breed their own, grow them on.
So they bring the money back in and they're making £6 a rod
and during the summer, it's rammed.
So in terms of the income side of it, it's probably pretty substantial.
The trip has inspired them all.
I've seen all the little kids on the little lake, fishing and enjoying themselves.
They're not only learning how to fish, they're learning something educational at the same time.
If we could get that, it's going to bring a nice income in as well.
But in Newstead, they're a long way off a finished country park.
Ever more determined, Mick and the lads are working to get the park on track,
starting with perimeter fencing.
Here, where these guys are putting this up,
there's a gate going in, so we can access this part of the site and people can access a footpath.
We're doing 3,000 metres, which is a considerable amount.
We've got about another seven weeks to complete the fencing.
Guys, we're going to talk about putting this strut in.
It's more about people creating it for themselves, coming along as volunteers or member supporters,
and that's how we see the plot developing over the next five or ten years.
You're learning new things and getting to grips with fencing.
I've never dreamt about doing fencing before in my life,
so it is something that I could get the hang of.
It's not as hard as I thought it would be, but it's hard work, sweating.
There's an awful lot of work to do.
Despite the many hours young people have spent making fencing,
there's a setback.
Fish must be stocked in the lake in winter months.
But the lakes here just won't be finished in time.
We're all hoping we make the deadline of getting the lakes open by the end of March.
It's a significant part of our income.
Looking at other aspects of the country park - the festival in September didn't make money.
It's made it a tricky job. If we'd had planning permission back when we started in the summer,
then we'd be sailing by now.
To cover the extra costs the build faced at the outset,
the team has applied for extra funding to help get it finished.
If the lakes can't open by summer,
then Jules hopes at least the visitor centre will bring in some money.
For me, personally,
there will have to be a lot more done before I can visualize it, and this is what you do.
You come up here and get a lump in your throat
because it's unbelievable what's been going on.
It's really, really impressive,
but in terms of visualizing the finished thing,
that's not what I do.
So for me, it's like, "Really? You've got nine weeks to go?"
No, it's going to be open in ten weeks.
We've got a programme, we're on the programme.
We might be two days shy at the moment.
What's getting me now, especially now this timber wall's up,
is the scale of it.
I'm just looking at it now, thinking...
What you've got to remember is that most of the area that's now mud
is going to be covered in water.
The worry about the lakes and how much longer it's going to take,
because the lakes aren't bringing in income as early as we'd hoped, puts extra pressure on the building.
It's frustrating, because it puts a lot of pressure on the business.
-But we're opening in June.
-We are opening in June.
The next five weeks race by
as the build volunteers work round the clock to get the tyre wall finished.
And thanks to a hundred locals and thousands of hours of work,
Newstead's mining legacy is sealed in a wall
built from 1,200 rammed-earth tyres.
It's a gratifying sight,
but the pot is dwindling.
We've had some bad luck in the ground, we've had to put a lot more money in the foundations,
the lakes have been delayed by six months.
That has led us to a pinch at the end of the project.
Nonetheless, work forges on.
The team has spent just over £250,000 on the building so far.
But with low funds, it's now down to the villagers to finish the job.
'The team is feeling the pressure.'
How is the money going here?
The money is tough at the moment.
-I mean, there's no denying that, the money is...
We're pretty close to running out, yes.
And we've still got an enormous amount to do. We've been hit on all fronts, really.
We didn't make the money we were hoping to for Headstock, the lakes are behind schedule,
and the build is taking more money than we hoped.
-How does that make you feel?
-Very, very stressed, if I'm honest.
Because we've got to have a sustainable project here.
If we don't, then every bit of hard work that everybody's put in,
including 300 members of the community, is for nothing.
In fact, we'll leave a community that's more downheartened if we can't make this sustainable.
So it's incredibly stressful for all of us at the moment.
Do you feel absolutely confident
that this is going to be financially self-sufficient?
I genuinely believe that it's going to take us a little bit longer to get there,
because we have dared to dream big and it will take us longer, but it will be sustainable.
We must emphasise that the lakes aren't far off completion,
so by October, with a minimal amount of work, we can have those in place.
There are other aspects, particularly the build...
What's interesting is we're running low on money, but we're not running low on sort of social capital.
We have a fantastic amount of energy from the community and more involvement across the board.
It's extraordinary, the people here. They're going to succeed anyway, whatever happens,
and I think that's the real currency
and that's the thing that should be tapped into to feed the future.
The village hasn't had the best of reputations and that's come on leaps and bounds.
The amount of positive publicity and visitors we're getting, different groups are coming to look and going,
"Wow, what an amazing place this is," which it is. We knew that.
So what's the key to getting all this finished? What's the key to making it work?
The key to getting it finished now is absolutely the community.
They will be the people that allow us to invest in the park and to grow it in the future.
Newstead's novice entrepreneurs aren't about to throw in the towel
and they all have business ideas for the park.
These bicycles were donated by Nottinghamshire police. A lot of them need punctures repairing,
the brake cables tightened up.
We can look at them like starting up a little business.
Like, hiring out bicycles.
The plucky locals have even more up their sleeve, including arts...
-This is a perfect place for having storytelling events.
Nordic walking is a Scandinavian fitness technique.
..and of course, the WI ladies are always looking for a chance to be involved.
We do bring cakes from the WI, yeah.
But Ashley and Chris hope the biggest income could be made from family fishing.
Have you got a business plan out here? A cunning plan?
Getting the lakes set up, you know, for like...
In a way, more like a coarse fishing lake,
you know, for younger people.
If we could offer it at a low price, we'd still bring income in,
but they're getting a great deal and a good day's fishing as well.
I think that sounds a really great plan, I have to say.
And with so many ideas for business,
the locals are more determined than ever to finish the build.
Everyone's on standby to finish it by the end of the summer.
'I can really see Ant's vision here.'
This is going to be an amazing building.
Once the community get in here and finish it off...
this is going to be such a great asset for Newstead village.
# I need dollar, dollar
# Dollar, that's what I need Hey, hey
# Well, I need... #
With the interior work to complete,
Ant and Mark are leading the volunteers
through clearing the ground and filling in the tyre wall.
We haven't finished it, we've run out of funds,
but what's more important is that we've got the people and the whole community is involved.
They've really rallied forth.
As a leading volunteer,
Mark is dedicating much of his free time to the build.
We are where we are, and I think we've worked really hard
to get to this point, and, you know,
we need to push on, and we need a little bit of help,
a little bit of luck, just to get this finished.
# I had a job But the boss man let me go... #
But as long as the build and the park remain incomplete,
sadly, much-needed income from the tourist trade is lost.
The lads are now keener than ever
to start up an angling business on their country park.
I hope that build gets finished, though,
because that's going to be the main attraction up there.
Now, by putting that visitors' centre and everything there,
that'll be the new tourist attraction.
I think eventually it'll get there, it'll be a success.
It's down to us now to help get it finished and everything.
If we want it, we've got to help, we've got to get it finished.
Self-achievement as well, innit?
Something to look back on and be proud of.
MUSIC: "Hoppipolla" by Sigur Ros
One year on from receiving their grant,
and the community has gathered to take stock of their achievements so far.
It will be one of the finest country parks in this country.
12 months ago, this land was the remains of a slag heap.
Now, thanks to an amazing community effort,
the green shoots of recovery
are showing what could be a brilliant resource for the village.
The foundations of a country park have been laid,
and a visitors' centre stands on the edge of a beautiful lake.
When it opens, the villagers are primed to move on site
and run the business long into Newstead's future.
Although Mark and project leader Penny have work ahead of them,
getting this far within a year is a huge achievement.
When you look at this now, are you proud of what's been achieved?
It's quite emotional to think about taking on a project of this scale,
and actually thinking, what we have achieved,
we've really got to take a lot from that.
Days like this, when you're looking at the building and there's all these people here,
just for the project, I think it's amazing.
Jules and Ant have now come to the end of their year working with Newstead village.
You're not quite as far forward as you'd probably hoped. How does that feel?
It's disappointing not to get a completely finished country park
that we can open right here and now. But I have to say,
I am phenomenally proud of what we've achieved.
This whole project, it's about transforming lives.
To be honest, we wouldn't have uprooted the whole family if it wasn't really a community in need.
Is that it for you, are you off now?
Well, our contract is strictly up in about a week's time,
but we've committed to stay until at least the next festival, which is in September.
There's still quite a bit of work for me to do on the build,
so we'll be here for a few more months.
It's just too big of a project and it's grabbed us too much by the heart, really, to walk away from.
It's easy to see the park is now a valuable space for the people of Newstead.
How will it change life in Newstead for you?
It's so inspirational to see. There was nothing here a year ago,
and the kids have seen the volunteers doing this work,
coming and picking apples out of hedgerows
and all the other opportunities that there are.
Money can't usually buy that kind of thing.
I have to say, if this was on my doorstep,
all the activities I can see that are starting,
I'm thinking I'd probably be here most weekends.
-She's gorgeous. Yay!
There's going to be so much more to do, and it's so appealing.
I'm just hoping it brings lots of people in
and lots of positive things in for the village.
If we can do it, then other communities can as well.
-We'll be up here quite a lot.
Projects like this are born out of determination and dreams.
Over the last year, have you learned anything?
Yeah, I shouldn't take so much on! I've learned an enormous amount.
We're learning every week. To me, the proof is when people turn up
to offer their free time as volunteer work, it's flabbergasting.
And with a bit of help, we'll be there shortly.
I look at this now and think, this was one of the mining scars.
This is it, we're in it, in the middle of the scar here.
Do you think it is a scar still?
No, not at all. I don't think people do locally.
I think it's an absolutely beautiful place, and becoming more beautiful.
We then have a responsibility to manage that for future generations.
One big achievement so far is the number of locals who have been involved.
Today, these young people will all receive Open College certificates
for their work in fencing, building and much more. It's a big day for Chris.
Do you think you're any way different to a year ago?
Do you feel different?
I feel better in myself.
If it wasn't for this country park, I wouldn't be where I am now.
When people come and visit it and fish and everything
and they're talking about it, I can say, "I helped build that."
-Are you proud of that?
-Yeah, I am.
-You should be.
Good. I'm glad you're proud of it.
The moment has come, official recognition for a year of hard work.
Mick is keen to express his thanks.
It's amazing that people have stuck with this, and how many have got involved.
Part of what we're here to do now is just to recognise some of those people
who've made a big contribution to this project.
I'd like to invite up two people
who've been an integral part of this project, both from the CAST Project.
That's Ash Day and Chris Bateman. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
It's good to get something back from what we've done,
to show that we've done something.
A certificate just to say that we've volunteered and we've helped.
It's a really good feeling.
It has been a hell of a lot of work, and it's been hard work as well,
but it's all worth it, seeing it all come together.
In all, 40 young people have been awarded qualifications.
Steve Boyd. Cheers, Steve.
When you look at the pride on these guys' faces,
suddenly the whole project takes on a totally new meaning.
This is about changing lives, and it's qualifications
that's going to change these people's lives for the future.
If you have been inspired to create a community project in your area
and want to find out about the grants available
and how to apply, go to -
and get the ball rolling.
A group of volunteers think food can save their village.
-I think it's absolutely yummy.
-Oh, good! Thank you.
Welcome to the Tideswell School Of Food.
But will it leave a sour taste in the mouths of the community?
I hope it works, but as long as it don't take any business off us.
It seems to me that you're slightly fearful of regeneration.
I think he's got to bring a lot of people in.
And have they bitten off more than they can chew?
None of us have run a cookery school,
none of us have planned a cookery school.
We do want to make this look as though we know what we're doing.
At the moment you've got nobody booked on any courses,
and that's not good, is it?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Sarah Beeny follows a passionate group of locals as they spend a year trying to rescue their community. When the residents of Newstead in Nottinghamshire applied for a grant from the Big Lottery Fund to transform a disused mining pit tip into a country park they had no idea what was in store.