Cumbria Women of the Year 2012 Winner
The exceptional June Hall from Newbiggin, Stainton has been chosen as the winner of the Cumbria Women of the Year 2012 title, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the Cumbrian community and its heritage over the last decade, as well as her generosity of spirit and willingness to nurture the talents of others.
Since moving to Cumbria from Wensleydale in 2002, June has reflected the essence of life in Cumbria in everything she does. She is a tutor in textile skills, an authority on local Cumbrian history and an archivist and committed member of the Society of Friends’ Mosedale and North Cumbria Area meetings. She is at the forefront of the local textile movement and rural crafts sector, co-founding Cumbria’s first Knitting Café in Penrith in 2003, an inclusive initiative giving craftspeople of all ages the opportunity to meet socially, and explore avenues to assist others. Thanks to June making contact with a Cumbrian doctor working in Pakistan, the group has been actively involved in making blankets clothing for newborn babies there and arranging the distribution of woollen items.
In 2002, June joined the Wool Clip, a co-operative of craftswomen working in wool and in its second year at the time. She has contributed much to this award-winning initiative, which promotes Cumbrian wool and its educational role in the community. In 2005, the Wool Clip organised the groundbreaking exhibition Woolfest in Cockermouth. She vigorously organised exhibitions, demonstrations, lectures and masterclasses during the first six years of this event, which has been a triumph, putting Cumbrian wool and textile skills on the worldwide map. This event has allowed many rural craftspeople across the county to showcase their talents, often at the start of their careers. Her inspiration, energy and focus has helped make the event what it is today, attracting over 5,000 visitors annually.
In 2004, June turned her attention to writing, publishing the children’s book, ‘Henrietta Herdwick’, a tale of the life of a Cumbrian fell farmer which reached a worldwide audience. Her dedication to the Herdwick breed, and others, has led to her becoming first Chair and now Vice Chair of the Cumbria Group of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST); she created the most successful fundraising event for the Trust, Wear Wool, which saw committed knitters creating hats from the wool of rare breed sheep. Through her work at the RBST, her inspirational spirit and unswerving commitment to sharing her knowledge and skills has recently seen her encouraging a ten-year-old to rear his own sheep and produce the best fleece he can in order to knit a hat from his own animal.
Her curiosity and intellect, her ability to communicate with passion to people of all ages and from all walks of life, has inspired many members of the Cumbrian community to explore their talents and achieve fulfilment by maximising their skills. She has also had a worldwide impact, working through Cumbrian charity, Lithuania Link, which was established in the 1990s to help Lithuanians develop new skills and find a better quality of life after Soviet occupation. She has encouraged skills transfer, by teaching in the Baltic and bringing Lithuanians to Cumbria to share knowledge.
All of these achievements have been underpinned by selflessness, humility and kindness, as explained by the various nominees who put her forward for the Cumbria Women of the Year award.
Announcing her as the winner, she was commended thus: “Although all nominations were worthy and inspiring, this nominee shone through, both for her achievements and her generosity in giving both time and knowledge to other members of the community. All of the people nominating her were passionate when describing her role in their lives, which is amazingly wide and far-reaching, covering many different aspects of life in Cumbria. Consequently, we are very proud to announce June Hall as our Cumbria Woman of the Year 2012.”