News Articles‎ > ‎ catch up with Palacerigg Country Park Manager, Chris Benard

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 00:00 GMT on Sunday 10th April, 2011.
Picture is copyright of Bill Henry and is used on his courtesy.'s Scott Campbell caught up with Palacerigg Country Park manager, Chris Benard.
We put your questions to Chris and got to learn a little more about his work at Palacerigg.
Chris, who came to Palacerigg in 1979, as a park ranger said that he'd work at Palacerigg for "two years and then I'd move onto another job"
Chris, however, was wrong and 32 years on Chris is now the manager of the park that he loves so much.
What would you say are your duties within the park?

"My main duties include keeping finances balancing and ensuring that routines are met i.e. animals are watered and fed. It’s also my duty to ensure that procedure and quality is met."
Do you live locally?
"I live very locally. I own of the houses that are built on the ground. I bought it when I first started back in 1979."
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Picture is copyright of Bill Henry and is used on his courtesy.

Is this a job that you like?

"Yes. I love this job. It’s the best job I've ever heard. I love to work outdoors. However, like any job it has its up and downs though.
"In recent times it’s become more about paperwork. I prefer to be more practical and hands on. I remember the day I started as if it was last week, we used to build sheds and walk around the park to show presence, now it’s more sitting in an office."
"Back in the seventies and eighties I would have walked twenty miles a day, minimum, as part of my work."
What events do you have lined up for Palacerigg?
"Well, we only have our two regular events. Firstly, there is obviously the Easter event that we hold every year and our very popular summer event.
"They're both family fun days but our summer event is more popular. We also are running our Santa's Grotto again this year."
What is the reasoning behind the rare breeds’ collection?
"Well back in the seventies when the council bought the land they got it cheap because you couldn't use it for farming or agricultural purposes.
"Because you couldn't farm the land the animals had to be picked carefully. David Stephen wanted to use the park as a sort of sanctuary for animals but when he left our new manager wanted to turn us into a zoo, but there was not enough money for a zoo.
"So when I came in I felt that everything was so expensive that we had to be careful with our selections.

"Because of our location I chose rare breeds. Because the land wasn't good for farming, farming animals were no good but rarer animals would bring strength and vigar. They were also more interesting for people to observe."
Your retiring soon, what plans have you got lined up?
"I have no idea. I'll still be living here in the park though, seeing as I own my house.
"I'll still take my dog walks; it'll be weird to still be in the park, I'll feel like I still work here. As for what I'll do first, I might take a holiday."

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