A COMMUNITY sports facility in a village has been presented with a rare award endorsing its lighting levels and lack of light pollution.
The John Pointon and Sons Sports and Recreation Facility in Felthouse Lane, Cheddleton, was presented with the British Astronomical Association's (BAA) Campaign for Dark Skies (CfDS) Good Lighting Award.
The award was presented by retired Cheddleton resident Kevin Kilburn, who has been a keen astronomer for most of his life.
Mr Kilburn is a member of the BAA, Society for the History of Astronomy, Macclesfield Astronomical Society, Royal Astronomical Society and Manchester Astronomical Society.
He said: "These rare awards are to acknowledge good lighting that directs necessary light downwards and not up into the night sky, to preserve that aspect of our heritage, particularly in a rural area such as Cheddleton, for the enjoyment of the night sky by our residents and especially our children.
"This facility is a credit to the company that has already been widely appreciated by the local community.
"I am sure that this additional award will be well received and also serve as a reminder to all just how precious our dark skies are."
Originally from Bollington, Mr Kilburn retired to Cheddleton 18 years ago.
He previously worked in the colour industry as a polymer chemist for 25 years, before becoming a purchasing manager for a firm in Ohio, US.
His interest in astronomy spans six decades, and his main field of study is the sun and moon.
He said: "I've been interested in astronomy for 60 years.
"I grew up in the 'Apollo Age', watching the space mission on the BBC presented by Patrick Moore.
"Light pollution can conflict with people's interest in looking at the night sky, particularly in inner cities, and it is something we want to preserve.
"Often people find looking at the stars is good for relaxation and contemplation, and it helps put things into perspective, especially in this day and age with the pressures of the economy and modern life."
Gazing at the night sky has become more popular, thanks to the likes of programmes such as Star Gazing Live and presenter Professor Brian Cox.
The CfDS was set up in 1989 and aims to preserve and restore the beauty of the night sky by campaigning against excessive, inefficient and irresponsible lighting, to ensure the right amount of light where needed.
Light pollution does not just affect the enjoyment of the night sky; there are very real effects it is having on wildlife. Mr Kilburn added: "There are effects light pollution can have on wildlife, especially for animals, birds and insects, who depend on certain times of the day for certain activities, such as mating and eating.
"Some species of moths are getting lower in number because they are venturing out at night, thinking it's the day, and getting picked off by nocturnal creatures such as bats."
Accepting the award on behalf of John Pointon and Sons, facility manager John Barratt said: "I'm very privileged to accept this award.
"It is our first one since the facility opened and the fact that it is so rarely given makes it all the more special.
"To get something like this, and for us to even be considered, is an honour.
"All the credit must go to Barney Williams, financial director for the company, and the Pointon family, who rightly deserve positive recognition for what they have one with this facility and everything they have done for the community."
Royal Astronomical Society, founded 1820: http://www.ras.org.uk/about-the-ras
The British Astronomical Association was founded in 1890: http://britastro.org/baa/
Manchester Astronomical Society: Founded in 1892 as the North Western Branch of the BAA: http://www.manastro.org/
The Society for the History of Astronomy: http://societyforthehistoryofastronomy.wordpress.com/
Macclesfield AS: http://www.maccastro.com/the-society/
Keele University: http://www.astro.keele.ac.uk/Observatory/
Jodrell Bank: http://www.jodrellbank.net/