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National award crowns successful first year for Sherwood visitor centre

The team involved in designing and building the new RSPB visitor centre at Sherwood Forest collect their LABC Building Excellence national award at a ceremony hosted by comedian Milton Jones – Photo Credit: Eden Photography

The Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre has received a prestigious national award to add to the five other accolades collected during its first year of operation.

The state-of-the-art centre, which opened in August last year, took top honours in the Small Commercial Project sector of the LABC Building Excellence national awards, which took place in London on Friday night (8th).

A panel of industry experts judged a list of the highest quality projects from around England and Wales to reward the best in technical innovation, sustainability, safety and design.

The Sherwood centre beat off stiff competition from projects around the country, including the Land of Oak and Iron Heritage Centre in Blaydon-on-Tyne in the north-east, and the Alexandra Palace Theatre in London.

The award adds to an impressive tally of successes already this year, including regional wins in the  LABC,  Visit Nottinghamshire, East Midlands Property and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors awards.

The panel of expert judges said “The completed building demonstrates the very best of collaborative working and considered design which took inspiration from the surrounding woodlands and countryside. It’s environmental and sustainability credentials are commensurate with the activities within such a building. It clearly will enhance the visitor experience for all those who encounter it for many decades to come.”

Gemma Howarth, senior site manager at Sherwood, said she was delighted that the new centre has received a Building Excellence award, especially given the strong competition from around the UK.

“It is always wonderful to receive recognition from experts in the industry and for our centre to have been chosen from projects around the country is an especially proud moment for the whole team here.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without the huge support we’ve had throughout the project to help make the RSPB’s vision for Sherwood a reality.

“That’s thanks to Nottinghamshire County Council, all of our partners, to our funders, including D2N2 LEP, our contractors Woodheads and our architects, JDDK.

“Going forwards, we realise that we have to put on an award-winning performance every day to ensure we provide the very best experience for our visitors, and we’ll continue to work hard and build on what we’ve already achieved here!”

Councillor John Cottee, Chairman of the Communities and Place Committee said: “I am extremely proud of all of the team who have worked hard to realise the Council’s vision for the future of Sherwood as a landmark destination.  Almost 400,000 people visited the iconic home of Robin Hood last year and we’re ready to welcome more.

“An industry award from experts is a fantastic accolade for everyone involved and certainly underpins Nottinghamshire as a great place to visit.”

Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre is part of a scheme costing more than £5 million, managed by an RSPB-led consortium, working together with Nottinghamshire County Council.   Sherwood Forest Trust, Thoresby Estate and the Woodland Trust complete the partnership.  Funders included partners, and D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, which provided £500,000 towards the project.

Tom Woodhead, business services director of Woodhead Group, the contractors on the project, said “To have the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre recognised as the best small commercial project  in such prestigious awards is a great achievement for the team.

“The project has promoted conservation and tourism in the local area as well as increasing engagement with the community, which will preserve the legacy of Sherwood Forest for years to come.”

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape Group, who assisted in the procurement process, said: “Huge congratulations to the team at Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre for winning a prestigious LABC Building Excellence national award. We are so pleased to see such a fantastic project that was procured through the Scape Venture framework, not only receive industry accolades but also provide true value to the local and wider community.”

The new centre replaced the old visitor facilities, which had been built in a protected area of the forest and were proving detrimental to the trees and woodland.  The new building was relocated to Forest Corner, helping create a closer link to local businesses and Edwinstowe village.

It includes a car park, retail and catering offer, new toilets including a changing places facility, accessible parking, an outdoor amphitheatre and new play area.

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For more information, contact Helen Moffat, Communications Manager, on 07753 421393 or email: helen.moffat@rspb.org.uk.