The National Trust has announced the six winners of the first ever Octavia Hill Awards at a special ceremony in London.
A prolific drystone waller, an intrepid volunteer youth worker and famous TV walker were among the green heroes celebrated by the National Trust.
The awards are named after Trust founder and social reformer Octavia Hill who died in 1912. They are being run in partnership with Countryfile Magazine.
Nominated by the public and then put to an online poll that saw nearly seven thousand votes, each winner is keeping the spirit of Octavia alive – standing up for precious natural spaces and places.
The winners of the Octavia Hill Awards were: Patrick Frew from Country Antrim, Northern Ireland is the ‘Growing Hero’ – Patrick has turned a one-acre site into a diverse growing space. Young children enjoy visits to the site to reconnect with nature while elderly residents are treated to home deliveries of compost and easy salad plants ready to make their own DIY ‘Doorstep Allotments’.
Roger Parkinson from Wakefield, West Yorkshire is a ‘Natural Hero’ – Roger is an inspirational tree conservation leader, a public speaker and field teacher. As a practitioner, he’s helped restore a five-acre arboretum with more than 150 tree species and he’s helped individuals and groups with their own woodland creation projects.
Matt Smith from Bootle, Liverpool is the ‘Inspirational Hero’ – Volunteer youth worker Matt is tackling anti-social behaviour by getting young people into the outdoors. As a volunteer he organises nature hikes, camping and self-sufficiency trips that educate, inspire and sometimes change lives.
Julia Bradbury was voted ‘The People’s Campaigner’ – Julia picked up the award for someone in the public spotlight who’s championed an issue or cause. Her passion for walking began at an early age and she was formerly President of the Ramblers Association. Her public profile as a popular TV presenter gives her the chance to champion and promote the landscape she loves.
The Friends of King Henry’s Walk Garden in North London are the ‘Green Space Guardians’ – A scrap of wasteland in North London is now a tranquil community garden thanks to this group. King Henry’s Walk Garden is enjoyed by the many families who don’t have outside space and people can rent space to grow their own produce.
Eric Shorrocks of Arnside Knott, Cumbria wins the ‘Love Places’ Award – A self-taught professional drystone waller, Eric has passed on his skills, training up at least 20 others in the craft and, as a National Trust volunteer, he’s been dedicating his free time to everything from litter picking and path clearing to saving precious limestone grassland from scrub invasion.
The Awards attracted more than 160 entries and a final shortlist was selected by a panel of judges with a wide knowledge of green and social issues. Sitting on the panel alongside Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, were Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine, academic and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts and journalist and writer Candida Lycett Green.
The public then voted, in their thousands, for the shortlisted entries.
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.
They also win the opportunity to be mentored by a Trust expert and will be profiled in Countryfile Magazine.