Renowned poet Dr John Cooper Clarke has written the final verses of the Nation’s Ode to the Coast, a new poem celebrating the nation’s enduring love affair with our beautiful coastline, with the help of coastal memories and stories you shared.
We invited you to help Clarke complete his poem, which he started earlier this year, over the summer. The poem takes inspiration from over 11,500 contributions and to mark the launch of the final ode we’ve created a film featuring 17 people who shared why they love the coast.
The poem marks 50 years of our successful Neptune Coastline Campaign. Thanks to the people-powered campaign we look after 775 miles of coastline from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Gower Peninsula, the Jurassic Coast to the Giant’s Causeway.
Collaboration with the nation
Clarke, who is known for his punk poetry and work with music stars including The Clash, Plan B, Arctic Monkeys and Elvis Costello, is one of Britain’s most celebrated poets.
Using #lovethecoast, over 11,500 people submitted words, pictures and even sounds that summed up their love of the coast and the wonderfully intimate moments that happen there. Popular memories featured stormy seas, family seaside picnics and holidays from years ago.
‘I wasn’t surprised by the strong reaction this poem triggered from the British public,’ said Clarke. ‘Poetry is such a brilliantly reflective and inspiring way to motivate humanity to act.
‘It’s so important that the coast remains protected for generations to enjoy, and I only hope that the work I’ve been doing with the National Trust will encourage people to support the charity to protect these beautiful coastal places for another 50 years.’
‘I’m incredibly proud to be supporting the work that the Trust is doing to protect our coastline,’ said poem contributor and coast enthusiast Simon Watts. ‘Some of my family’s fondest memories together are at the seaside. The coast makes me feel incredibly nostalgic as it brings back so many happy childhood memories.’
Caring for the coast
The unique literary work shines a light on the beauty and diversity of the 775 miles of coast we look after in the UK, which makes up almost 10 per cent of the coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
’The creation of the Nation’s Ode to the Coast wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the public,’ said Kate Martin, our coast and countryside ranger. ‘By getting involved this summer, they’ve helped raise awareness of the need to protect the coastline.
‘Caring for the coastline, and ensuring it’s managed in such a way that future generations can enjoy it, is a huge responsibility and one we don’t take lightly. We can’t stress enough how much we appreciate and value people’s help and support – without them we couldn’t continue our work at these special places.’