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The Lake District has today launched its own local currency, as part of a private initiative to drive trade to local businesses and raise money for charity

You might be forgiven for thinking you’d slipped back a month in time to April the 1st, but the scheme is real – and when you read the details it could very well help local businesses in the Lakes.

Starting today, people will be able to begin spending the Lake District’s very own £LD1, £LD5, £LD10 and £LD20 notes in over 200 locally owned businesses.

Ken Royall, founder and director of the Lakes Currency Project, made the inaugural purchase with the currency to buy a ticket to take a steamer across Ullswater, in the Eastern Lake District, travelling from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge.

The Lake District Pound team and guests then took specially liveried Mountain Goat tour buses from Pooley Bridge over Kirkstone Pass and on a journey around some of the Lake District’s main centres making purchases with the currency on their way. The tour culminated in a small street party in Packhorse Court, Keswick, and a theatre performance at the Theatre by the Lake.

A fun experience

The Lake District Pound can be used interchangeably with and alongside Sterling, but can only be spent in locally owned, independent businesses and tourist attractions.

Each note features prominent figures from the history of the Lake District and tells the story of a different aspect of the local character.

M Royall, who was born in the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness and now lives near Windermere, said: “Today is just the beginning of a long, fun and exciting future for the Lake District Pound, as the number of businesses involved in the scheme grows and we develop new note designs and innovative new ways of promoting the initiative.

“First and foremost we want the currency to create a fun experience which enables both visitors and local people to explore the unique culture of the Lakes.

“At the same time, this will act to raise awareness of our local businesses and drive footfall to them. This will help preserve, protect and promote these individual businesses which are the backbone of our communities.

“Finally, if people choose to keep the currency as a memento of their time here, then this creates proceeds for the company which we will split equally between two fantastic local charities which care for our people and landscape – Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.

“We want this to be something which adds to our region’s sense of identity and pride in itself. At the same time, we want the currency to be something that the wider community of people who love the Lake District can engage with – no matter where in the world they live – and feel part of a something that helps preserve and protect the unique character of this very special place.”

How the Lake District Pound works

New currency will be released each year, and will be valid from January 31 for 12 months; however, new designs will be available from December, giving a two-month overlap to exchange the previous year’s currency. People can exchange their Sterling for Lake District pounds at a number of Exchange Points across the region, including at most Post Offices. They can swap the notes back before the end of their holiday or send them back to the Lakes Currency Project, which will redeem them electronically.

The Lake District pounds can then be spent just like Sterling in businesses that are part of the initiative and display the LD£ symbol in their windows. People can stamp their LD£ Passport in local businesses on the Passport Trail – every business has a unique stamp. Businesses can take the Lake District pound to the Post Office, which will deposit it directly into their bank accounts as Sterling, and every time someone keeps a LD£ as a memento, this creates proceeds that will be divided between Cumbria Community Foundation and the Lake District Foundation.

For more information on the project, participating businesses and how to buy the currency go to www.lakedistrictpound.com.