Inspirational Hero award

This award celebrates someone who is inspiring and nurturing the next generation of enthusiasts.

Learn more about the shortlisted entries here - and the winner, Matt Smith.

    Winner: Matt Smith - Bootle, Liverpool

    Matt Smith - shortlisted for the Inspirational Hero Octavia Hill Award

    Matt is a volunteer youth worker in the very same Bootle youth group that he attended as a teenager. At just 21 years old, his selfless work in the community is having a real impact on anti-social behaviour, as well as raising awareness on issues such as sustainability. 

    Matt is a tireless fundraiser – pulling together camping trips that get young people exposed to the wonders of the outdoors, with nature hikes and foraging. The impact is phenomenal, given that many have never left the city before.

    Always pushing himself, at just 15 Matt joined a month-long BBC expedition down the Amazon. On the 21-mile canoe adventure he removed illegal fishing nets and built an enclosure for rare monkeys.

    After leaving college, Matt set up an Eco-Warriors programme educate pupils about the environmental impact of their school. He continues to run activities for inner city young people, and remains passionate about educating them on environmental issues.

    Nominated by Vee Smith

    Runner up: Edgar Hoddy - Broads Authority, Norfolk

    Edgar Hoddy - shortlisted for the Inspirational Hero Octavia Hill Award

    With his soft Norfolk accent and larger-than-life character, Edgar gets on with everyone. And the Broads are in his blood – he was born and raised on a smallholding alongside the water and is a true countryman.

    He first worked for the Broads Authority in 2004 and is now a vital part of the ranger team based at Whitlingham Country Park on the outskirts of Norwich.

    Edgar can be found tractor driving in the morning, working with teenagers at lunchtime and leading a class of children in the afternoon.

    His greatest success has come with ex-young offenders – coaxing them out of their shells and getting them involved in practical countryside tasks. Learning with Edgar is fun.

    Recognising his impact on their lives, many youngsters return to thank Edgar for what he has done for them, and how he has helped them gain the confidence to get into work.

    Nominated by Adrian Vernon, Broads Authority

    Runner up: Yvonne Witter - Sheffield

    Yvonne Witter - shortlisted for the Inspirational Hero Octavia Hill Award

    Born in England, and growing up in Jamaica, Yvonne has an infectious love of the British countryside and a big heart. With great stamina and a positive outlook on life she’s involved in endless activities with family, friends and the church.

    As a volunteer Mosaic Community Champion Yvonne enthuses families from within urban Black and Minority Ethnic groups and takes them out into the countryside. Fun is at the heart of what she does.

    Many do not think the ‘outdoors’ is for them, but Yvonne has a way of encouraging everyone. She opens up a whole new world to people with visits to beautiful places managed by the National Trust, National Parks and Wildlife Trusts.

    Organising a group bike ride in the Peak District for novice cyclists has to be one of her greatest achievements. All done in her gently persuasive and infectious style.

    Nominated by Zahid Hamid