ENVIRONMENT AWARDS: TV show inspired Mark

Sheffield Telegraph Enviroment Awards 2012 at Sheffield Collge 'Neil Barker presents the Design and Build Award to Mark Woodward and Arthur of Green Directions
Sheffield Telegraph Enviroment Awards 2012 at Sheffield Collge 'Neil Barker presents the Design and Build Award to Mark Woodward and Arthur of Green Directions

What began life as a flash of inspiration from Channel 4’s Grand Designs has turned into a life mission for father Mark Woodward.

And like many of the programme’s subjects, the transformation of a crumbling, historic site proved a testing labour of love for Mark and his large family. Eight years ago, he bought Townfield Head Farm in Stannington, Sheffield, with the vision of transforming it into a working business and home for his wife and children.

He first created a teaching and conference centre, dubbing the company Green Directions, carved out of the old house and an adjoining barn.

With a desire to create renewable energy to run the business and house, he tried a number of different alternatives but wind proved the best one.

It has been an arduous task bringing the old dairy farm into the 21st century in the most environmentally-friendly way possible, but the site now produces enough energy to power six or seven times the average house using wind turbines and solar panels.

Sprawling 10 acres, with two barns, outhouses and a farm house. They grow their own vegetables, keep pigs and try - where possible - to live off the land.

Neil Baker, of MP Plastics, handed over the award to Green Directions on the night.

Collecting his award with young son Arthur, Mark said: “It was partly Grand Designs and partly wanting to get a sustainable lifestyle out of this opportunity. We started with a wind turbine in 2005 and have now moved on to another which is fabulous. We literally make more electricity than we use.

“It has not been an easy ride because a lot of the technology we use is quite new. Even the people selling it to you aren’t overly-familiar with the way it all works. It has been a bit crazy and there have been a lot of obstacles on the way.”

Six-year-old Arthur cheekily told host Clare Frisby, ‘he couldn’t have done it without me’.