A classroom developed currency is making inroads at the university where an innovative masters student dreamed up and developed the concept of a Lake District pound.
As countless summer visitors turn to a ‘conservation cash’ designed to make a difference, University of Cumbria (UoC) is accepting the currency at its Ambleside campus – and for a PhD student’s fees.
The brainchild of Ken Royall, whose UoC studies included a sustainable exchange module, current LD£ notes have special relevance, featuring two Lakes’ luminaries with strong ties to the university.
Ambleside campus director, Professor Lois Mansfield, said as an anchor institution serving Cumbria and beyond, it was right to support a scheme which gave financial help to grassroots charities and organisations.
She added: “We are particularly pleased that two important figures for us, Charlotte Mason and Sir Chris Bonington, currently grace the one and ten pound notes.
“Charlotte Mason educated governesses here in Victorian times and her name carried on when the establishment became a teacher training college. Sir Chris Bonington is one of our Honorary Fellows.
“Today, we provide a range of courses and research in a variety of fields from outdoor studies and paramedic training to leadership sustainability, all resonating with Sir Chris and Charlotte’s ethos.”
With around LD £90,000 in circulation and some 350 businesses accepting the notes, Mr Royall explained his vision had been to ‘engage with a small percentage of the Lakes’ 40,000 residents and 20 million visitors’.
He added: “One of our key aims was to support the rich history of local businesses in this area and to keep as many of them going as possible.
“If you spend a pound in a local shop, roughly 55p stays in Cumbria. If it’s a national chain, that reduces to 5p, shop online and it is just 1p – if the van driver is local. The visitor economy is worth £3billion and we want to make sure as much as possible stays here.
“Also, bought as souvenirs and not cashed in, the currency has the potential to generate substantial income for our chosen charities, Cumbria Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.
“Cafés and restaurants are the most popular places to spend LD£s, but around two thirds are bought as keepsakes. Americans are loving the Charlotte Mason notes; she’s a popular figure in the States.
“We are delighted UoC is on board, accepting our local notes in the Barn café and reception, and pleased to be supporting a PhD student researching complementary currency. Maybe it is the first university anywhere to be doing this.”
Mr Royall, who studied at UoC’s Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, said the project was only in its first full year of operation and it was too early to predict financial gains for the charities involved.
He added: “Although we had hoped for a greater uptake, it’s early days. Like all new ventures, it takes time. What is certain is that we need the younger generation to be taking a lead.
“Using LD£s shows you care about the community in which you live, acknowledging its health and welfare are important.
“Money is powerful and how individuals and their communities spend it can make a real difference. This is about making a statement, having pride in where you live – and showing you care.”
Growing up in Barrow-in-Furness, Mr Royall said the Lakes had always been special and having lived and worked all over the world, it was a pleasure to be back in the place he loved.
He concluded: “The LD£ is my way to use my experience and abilities to do something to support this amazing area.”