Nominate your wild hero for Octavia Hill Award

Celebrate the people who are helping to inspire a love of the outdoors © National Trust / Paul Canning

Celebrate the people who are helping to inspire a love of the outdoors

Latest update 09.04.2014 15:15

This year, the National Trust Octavia Hill Awards are looking for heroes who have helped children and young adults connect with the outdoors and wildlife.

The Wild Network and BBC Countryfile Magazine are spearheading a search for the volunteers, professionals and groups who are committing time, energy and resource to sparking young people’s interest in nature and the outdoors.

Children have never been more disconnected from nature, as confirmed by research carried out by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the University of Essex last October. The findings reveal that only one in five children under-12 have a ‘connection to nature’. Time spent playing outdoors has halved in a generation and children are more likely to recognise television characters than common wildlife species.

The awards were set up in 2012 by the National Trust and BBC Countryfile Magazine to celebrate the life and legacy of social reformer, environmental champion and one of the National Trust founders, Octavia Hill.

Nominations for the three categories – volunteer, professional and group – will be judged by a panel of experts before being put to a public online poll.

Last year the Octavia Hill Awards attracted more than 140 nominations and over 10,000 votes were cast online to decide the winner – with local man Allan Davies from County Antrim winning the ‘Love Places’ category.

The judges for this year’s awards will include: David Bond, Director of Project Wild Thing, Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner of the Scout Association and Fergus Collins, Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine.

David Bond, Marketing Director for Nature and star of the recent Project Wild Thing film, said: ‘Making Project Wild Thing I met a huge number of people who were passionate about getting kids back out into the wild and instilling in them their own love of nature.

‘Octavia Hill was a passionate believer in creating green spaces for all – particularly children. It is in her spirit that these awards recognise the talent and passion of those inspiring the next generation of nature lovers.’

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner of The Scout Association said: ‘ first developed a love for the outdoors as a Cub Scout. It was a cub leader – a volunteer – who took me camping in the forest and taught me to name different trees. These opportunities increased as I grew up through the Scout sections.

‘If we are serious about connecting children with nature we need to celebrate and encourage the volunteers who give many young people their first taste of the outdoors.’

Fergus Collins, Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, commented: ‘We are delighted to be a part of these awards, which recognise the hard work of communities and individuals who do so much to reconnect children in the UK with nature.

‘Children who regularly experience nature are more likely to care about the environment as adults. Without the efforts of these volunteers, professionals and groups, we won’t inspire the next generation of conservationists, outdoor-enthusiasts and passionate environmentalists.’

The closing date for submitting nominations for the awards is 31 May 2014. More information about how you can nominate people or organisations can be found here.