On the blog we are taking a deeper look at our national winners, and what it is that makes them so special. Each week two different winners’ profiles will be posted, so keep checking back for more rural business success stories!

The winner of the Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Pursuits Business is Forest and Beach! The judges were impressed by their amazing testimonials and their support for their local community and supply chain. They commented that this is a sustainable business offering an inclusive experience for all visitors, and a great example of how forest schools can have a real impact.

Established in 2013 by experienced teachers Pete and Andrea Moore, Forest and Beach specialises in connecting children and adults with nature and the outdoors. From their base within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and just a mile away from the coast, Forest and Beach offers a variety of experiences. They provide local schools with Forest School and residential visits, school holiday experiences for locals and visitors to the area as well as Forest School birthday parties and venue hire. They also co-organise and host the award-winning festival Dadfest.

The Forest and Beach site consists of a converted agricultural barn, made with many recycled materials, mature and immature woodland, and an event field, all beside a Forest Garden project, with beautiful views across Start Bay. It has the perfect amount of space for children to roam freely.

Andrea and Pete are passionate about promoting the outdoors, and teaching their clients about the natural world. Every aspect of their work encourages both children and adults to spend time outdoors, whatever the weather.

Activity programmes are considered very carefully at Forest and Beach, aimed specifically at the knowledge and experience of the age group being taught. With their Forest Days, Pete and Andrea aim to foster the curiosity of children towards their environment. While very young children will learn how to keep warm and explore their surroundings safely, older children will learn how to build shelters and cook on open fires.

Alongside their Forest Days, Andrea and Pete run a Coastal Adventure Day, which has featured in Coast Magazine. They take children along the old route the lighthouse children would have walked to get to school, educating them about their surroundings along the way. An important theme of this experience is coastal erosion, which is becoming an increasingly serious issue within the locality.

As well as welcoming people to the Forest and Beach site, Andrea and Pete also work with local schools, both urban and rural, inspiring a love of the outdoors in children who only have a limited experience of it, and delivering learning courses including the John Muir Award. They aim to help the students to explore their school grounds in a different way to playtime and their PE lessons.

Another key part of the educational programme is teaching children about the rich variety of wildlife found in the woods and along the coast. They support this work with their use of social media, promoting the beauty of their local area, and hopefully encouraging their followers to put down their phones and see that beauty for themselves!

This strong social media presence became especially important in 2017, when a Humpback Whale visited Start Bay. Pete and Andrea helped to document the whale’s activities, and at its peak their weekly post reach on Facebook was greater than 80,000 people.

The future looks bright for Forest and Beach; Pete and Andrea are currently applying for planning permission to rebuild their barn, creating a new education centre and bunk rooms. This will better enable visitors to come to Forest and Beach all year round, and allow the site to be hired out for events.

“We are honoured that Forest & Beach has received the national Rural Business Award for the Best Rural Recreational or Outdoor Pursuits Business. Through our sessions, children and adults develop connections to nature and the outdoors and learn about the importance of the conservation of the natural, rural environment. We are so proud of the work we do, and are incredibly pleased that the Rural Business Awards have recognised its importance.” – Peter Moore, Director.

To find out more about Forest and Beach, visit their website: www.raptureandwright.co.uk

To see all the blogs in this series on the winners of the 2018/19 National Rural Business Awards, click here.

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