The exhibition, which will tour venues around the New Forest between now and the end of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in September, will showcase the National Park landscape, encourage people to back their local heroes and inspire people of all ages to get involved in sport.
With stories of their road to London 2012 in an accompanying booklet, the athletes have spoken about how they started out in their sport and their links to the New Forest.
Among those featured are triple Olympic gold medallist sailor Ben Ainslie from Lymington; GB wheelchair rugby team member Aaron Phipps from Totton; Commonwealth silver medallist gymnast Laura Edwards from Brockenhurst;
Leader of New Forest District Council, Councillor Barry Rickman, said: ‘New Forest District Council is proud of its talented athletes and committed to supporting sport at many different levels from the grass roots to the elite. We hope to raise the profile of some of our top class athletes and get the whole of their local community behind them. For local residents to watch these athletes at the biggest sporting event on earth and realise that you can come from the New Forest, start at one of our many great clubs and make it all the way to the top should be an inspiration to get involved.
‘This exhibition also profiles some of our rising stars who are aspiring to reach the heights of those Olympic athletes. The legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be our world class athletes inspiring others from their local communities to get involved, to take up activity and realising that if you have the talent and determination you too could achieve your dreams.’
Alison Barnes, New Forest National Park Chief Executive, said: ‘With London 2012 and the torch relay passing through the New Forest, this summer gives us a golden opportunity to celebrate our historic landscape.
‘The New Forest was created for sport by William the Conqueror over 900 years ago as his hunting ground and has an impressive sporting history. So it is fitting that the area is home to so many elite athletes hoping to compete on the world sporting stage at the London 2012 Olympics.
‘Part of the National Park’s remit is to increase people’s understanding and enjoyment of the National Park while conserving the landscape for future generations. The Olympic year offers a unique opportunity to shine the spotlight on what is special about the Forest.
‘We hope by visiting this exhibition, people will be inspired to explore this unique landscape while taking up healthy activities – whether it is out enjoying a peaceful walk in the Forest or more formal sporting pursuits to reaching the pinnacle of Olympic competition.’
As well as attending the exhibition, people can post messages of support for the New Forest athletes by searching for New Forest 2012 on Facebook or on Twitter follow @newforestnpa.
18 April – 1 May: Royal Lymington Yacht Club, Bath Road, Lymington, SO41 3SE
21 April – 19 May: Red House Museum, Quay Road Christchurch, Dorset BH23 1BU (small exhibition)
3 May – 17 May: Lymington Town Hall, Avenue Road, SO41 9ZG
21 May – 31 May: NFDC offices, Appletree Court, Lyndhurst, SO43 7PA
6 June – 16 July: Ringwood Gateway, Ringwood
30 June – 3 August: Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Aikman Lane, West Totton, SO40 8FT
13 July – 3 September: New Forest Centre, Lyndhurst, SO43 7NY (small exhibition)
1 August – 1 September: Forest Arts, New Milton, BH25 6DS
■Commonwealth Silver Medallist gymnast Laura Edwards from Brockenhurst, pictured at the Ornamental Drive near Brockenhurst for the New Forest Local Heroes Exhibition.
■UK Under 17 discus champion Phoebe Dowson from Ringwood, pictured at Buckler’s Hard for the New Forest Local Heroes Exhibition.
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608 Mob: 07850143528 Email: hilary.makin@
Davina Staples, corporate communications advisor, New Forest District Council
Tel: 023 8028 5153 Mob: 07771 828039 Email: davina.staples@
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The New Forest National Park lies mainly in south-west Hampshire; it is famous for its stunning landscapes,wildlife,coastline & picturesque villages. It is the eighth national park in England and the first in the south-east to be created for nearly 50yrs.