Winners of Octavia Hill Awards announced

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Latest update 11.07.2013 20:51

A group of green space guardians marking their silver jubilee, a red squirrel champion and a passionate birdwatcher are this year’s green heroes celebrated in our Octavia Hill Awards.

The three winners, who saw off strong competition to claim the ultimate accolade, feature in the July issue of Countryfile Magazine, with an awards ceremony for all of the shortlisted finalists in the autumn.

The awards are named after Trust founder and social reformer Octavia Hill who died in August 1912, and are run in partnership with Countryfile Magazine.

Helen Timbrell, our Volunteering and Community Involvement Director and one of the judges, said:

'Being a volunteer is in our national DNA and it’s great that these awards recognise and celebrate the commitment, passion and determination of the people that care for the green spaces that matter so much to them.

'The standard of nominations for the Octavia Hill Awards this year was really high and shows that the spirit of volunteering is alive and well.'

The 2013 winners are:

  • Green Space Guardians award – Stroud Valleys Project in Gloucestershire

Now into its 25th year the Stroud Valleys Project works with a variety of volunteers to ensure green spaces and unused land is taken care in the area. This year it has launched a ‘Get Growing’ project in 23 local schools and they’re now looking to improve 25 wildflower meadows, and if they can’t find enough, are willing to create them.

  • 'Love Places' award - Allan Davies, County Antrim in Northern Ireland

Having walked 20 long-distance footpaths, taking him around the whole of the UK and thoroughly enjoying the experience, Allan felt that having retired, it was time to give something back. Now, a volunteer at Cushendun for almost three years, Allan has been proactively working to increase the number of rare and much loved red squirrels on the site, creating a better habitat for them, and helping to improve disabled access.

  • 'Natural Hero' - Mike Barrett in Norfolk

At 89 years old, Mike has been interested in nature all his life. He ran a 15-acre nature reserve at the power plant where he worked and has helped with the Marsh Harrier Monitoring project at RSPB Titchwell Marsh reserve. Today Mike is still volunteering at Titchwell Marsh, four half-days a week helping people with wildlife queries and hands-on reserve management.

Judging the entries
The awards attracted more than 140 entries and a final shortlist was selected by a panel of judges. Sitting on the panel were Helen Timbrell, Volunteering and Community Involvement Director at the Trust, Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine, Grahame Hindes, Chief Executive of Octavia House and Julia Bradbury, Countryfile presenter, and Matt Smith, who were both winners of a 2012 Octavia Hill Award. The public then voted, in their thousands, for the shortlisted entries.

Fergus Collins, editor of Countryfile Magazine, said,

'If it wasn’t for an army of volunteers offering their skills, energy and spare time for free, we would have significantly fewer beautiful, wild green spaces in both countryside and cities. From conservationists to craftspeople, campaigners and gardeners, these people are the unsung heroes who deserve all of our thanks.

'Octavia Hill understood the enormous value of green spaces for the physical and emotional well-being of local communities. She would certainly have been proud of this year’s winners.'

Each of the winners will receive a specially commissioned bowl made by Tony Alderman who works at the National Trust’s Chartwell in Kent. The bowls have been made using English elm, oak and yew collected from woods near to Crockham in Kent where Octavia Hill lived.