Kris and Les moved to Mid Wales from the Dorset coast in late 2010 as part of their escape from the rat race, and to enjoy their passion for astronomy under dark skies.
During a visit to the Elan Valley's Visitor Centre, Kris and Les were chatting to the then Head Ranger at the Elan Valley - Sorcha Lewis – when she questioned Les on how to go about gaining International Dark Sky recognition for the Elan Estate. Les supplied her with some contact details, namely their friend Bob Mizon - Commision for Dark Skies (CfDS) and John Barentine of the IDA...and in Nov 2012, an initial meeting was held at the Visitor Centre on the Elan Valley Estate to see if it was viable and the whole process for International recognition was initiated.
In early 2014, Sorcha stood down as Head Ranger, and as Kris and Les had been holding a couple of astronomy events and observing sessions at the Elan Valley as part of the IDA application, the new Head Ranger - Alan Samuel - asked if they'd like to take on the application...Les and Kris agreed, even though neither Kris, who works part time or Les, a full time bus driver, had any previous experience of preparing an application of this magnitude, but thanks to generous and warm assistance from John Barentine at the IDA, they got through the whole process.
In Spring 2015, after working with Estate Rangers and along with the assistance of the Estate residents, The Elan Valley Trust, Powys Council, Severn Trent and Welsh Water, the application comprising of over 200 light meter readings across the Estate lands, a lighting inventory of properties in the Elan Village and on the Estate, a comprehensive lighting management policy and a background to the whole Elan Valley Estate itself, was sent for consideration for International Dark Sky Park status to the IDA in Tucson, Arizona.USA.
The IDA announced in July 2015 that the Elan Valley Estate was Wales' first Silver Tiered International Dark Sky Park...and the World's first privately owned but publicly accessible park! This International status helped the whole of the 180 sq km estate lands become protected against Light Pollution for the benefit of humankind and the abundance of flora and fauna found within the park boundaries.
As John Barentine (IDA) said, “What makes the Elan Valley Estate’s achievement even more remarkable is that all the IDA application work was done in house by two local amateur astronomers, Les and Kris Fry of Elan Valley Astronomy, now volunteer Astronomy Rangers and Dwr Cymru Welsh Water Estate Rangers.”
The Elan Valley International Dark Sky Park now embark on their plans to further improve lighting standards within their control, and to create specific astronomically orientated viewing sites at several locations across the Park.
Kris and Les also set up on Facebook - Elan Valley Astronomy - to publicise Astronomy in the Elan Valley and Mid Wales area and to act as outreach for events organised as part of the EVIDSP's commitment to the IDA status.