Fundraisers for the Heart of England Forest don’t come more enthusiastic than Kit Jay, who, at just nine years old, chose to highlight the work of the charity and help swell our coffers as part of a school competition.

An inspirational figure

Kit had always enjoyed the poetry of Heart of England Forest Founder Felix Dennis, and he recited and discussed several of the great man’s poems as part of his English Speaking Board examinations. Born in New York, Kit always felt a great affinity with Felix and his love of trees, and when he was lucky enough to meet our Founder in person he was reminded how important all fundraising is for the charity. Back in the UK, it was while Kit was in Year 5 at North Yorkshire’s Cundall Manor School in 2012 that he entered the competition for the Junior Shepherd Award, which invited participants to demonstrate their ongoing support of a chosen charity and their passion for the great outdoors.

Naturally Kit chose the Heart of England Forest, and he gave a presentation to the school about our work, choosing the three words PRIDE, PASSION and TEAMWORK to represent his dedication to the Forest. He also undertook a sponsored swim at school, completing an extraordinary 300 lengths – representing the 300 acres of trees per year that we aim to add to the Forest – and raised over £200 in sponsorship for the charity. His hard work paid dividends when he was, indeed, honoured with the Junior Shepherd Award.

Continuing commitment

Six years later, and despite living many miles away in Yorkshire and preparing for his GCSE year at school, Kit attends Heart of England Forest Open days as regularly as he can. His interest in the Forest remains undimmed and he loves any chance to walk our trails and catch up on the fantastic progress being made. He has recently completed his Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, having already gained the Bronze Award, and he is also a Youth Ambassador for the National Trust, organising visitor events at their nearby Fountains Abbey World Heritage Site.

Kit’s latest fundraising project for the Heart of England Forest is to regularly make his own marmalade, selling it to friends and family before donating the proceeds at our Open Days. As his father Chris says, “We are very proud that Kit has such a passion for the outdoors and that he recognises his responsibility as a young adult to preserve the countryside for generations to come.” Clearly, while there are young supporters like Kit Jay working on behalf of the Forest, the future is in good hands. He is an inspiration to us all!

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