A short film about efforts to protect Cumbria’s native Fell Ponies has scooped a national Royal Television Society award.

University of Cumbria graduates Georgia Costin and Abbey Wilkinson have won the Saving the Planet (undergraduate) category of the 2024 RTS Student Television Awards for their 10-minute film Tails of Cumbrian Heritage. 

Judges said: "The jury said this was a clear and powerful film, making an impassioned argument for not losing touch with your roots."

Georgia and Abbey, who graduated with BA (Hons) Wildlife Media degrees last November, were keen to ensure that the film was an all-female affair. 

Whilst they remained behind the camera, Georgia and Abbey’s Tails of Cumbrian Heritage tells the story on-screen of breeders and Fell Pony Heritage Trust members Libby Robinson and mother-of-one and hill farmer Samantha Smith as they strive to conserve the wild roots of the ponies found on the fells of Cumbria for future generations. 

Georgia, 25, of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, said: “I’m obsessed with horses and there are native breeds all over the country. The fell pony was the late Queen’s favourite pony and she was the ambassador of the Fell Pony Society which is in part why I found them so interesting."

The pair were invited to meet a group of farming families in a rural pub, who were discussing the history and heritage of fell ponies on their common. 

Abbey, 22, said: “I knew instantly that we had to tell their story, from the farmer’s perspective. We were also keen that our film was all-female because farming and filmmaking are often seen as male-dominated industries. 

"It was also an opportunity to give the farmers a voice in a way that hasn’t really been done much this way before."

Laura Baxter is the programme leader for the BA (Hons) Wildlife Media degree delivered by the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Education, Arts and Society. 

She said: “As a team on the wildlife media programme, we’re all so proud of Georgia and Abbey. Long-serving colleagues can not remember the last time someone from our university won a national RTS award like this."

You can watch the film here.