Meet Lord Kevin of Little Neston-cum-Hargrave

A New Zealand newspaper reporting only good news and a charity in Indonesia are just two of the strings to the Lord of Little Neston's bow Words by Francesca Clayton

Although he is the latest Lord of Little Neston-cum-Hargrave, Kevin Couling isn’t exactly what you’d call local to the area. The son of a civil engineer from Middlesex, Kevin was raised in New Zealand after his father was offered a job by the country’s government.

‘My parents were looking for adventure and a new life,’ the 64th lord of the manor said. ‘The government over there paid for the passage because they believed my father’s skills could help develop New Zealand.’

While he still calls New Zealand home, Kevin possesses dual nationality, and it is his passion for English history that drew him to the idea of acquiring a title.

‘The idea of having a Lord of the Manor for each area predates the Norman conquest so it really is the living embodiment of English history. It’s important to keep that history going and preserve it.

‘Many of our current laws are based on the feudal system which existed at that time and many Lords act as Justices of the Peace so it is still relevant in today’s society.

And there are more manors now as well so it’s a growing system.’Kevin, who is also a Freeman of London, visits Little Neston as often as he can and keeps in touch via the internet when he’s back Down Under. ‘I like the area very much. The people are nice and friendly and the area has its own charm and beauty.’

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‘Too much English history has been lost and I think it’s time people realised that we need to keep history alive.

‘I feel a duty to take an interest in the manor. I come to the UK quite regularly and have meetings with the council to see how I can get involved, and I also have a steward whose responsibility it is to act on my behalf.’

Back in New Zealand, 49-year-old Kevin performs non-religious marriage ceremonies and ran an award-winning local newspaper for 13 years called The Good News, which reported only positive events.

‘We were able to prove the point that you could run a newspaper purely based on positive news. Everything had to be a celebration of local achievements within the community and we were able to make it sustainable.’

Kevin is also heavily involved in charity work and has been given humanitarian awards in Mongolia, Portugal, Ethiopia and Indonesia where his charity Regalis funds educational projects. As well as aiming to raise the 200 New Zealand dollars it takes to provide each child with books, tuition and one hot meal a day, the organisation also works to set up water reticulation projects around schools.

Because so many young Indonesian girls have to travel long distances to fetch water every day, they often don’t have enough time to attend school. By bringing the water closer, Regalis aims to give these young women more chance of an education

See the Rake’s progress

This year the event will take place on Sunday, October 16, starting at noon. Peter will be the commentator. All eyes will be on the event because next year, Olympic year, the National Championship will be held in Ramsbottom swelling even further the huge crowds. So come along and see for yourself the prowess of these amazing cyclists as they power their way up this famous climb and afterwards receive their rewards from the Mayor of Bury at the Shoulder of Mutton Pub.

The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Lancashire Life 

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