The winners of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s first Wilder Annual Awards were announced in a virtual ceremony in June. The successful nominees all share the Trust’s vision for a Wilder 2030 and are paving the way for nature’s recovery in our two counties.
The awards were presented to individuals and groups in eight award categories. These covered a wide variety of environmental topics, from the Brough Naturalist Award that supports naturalists with their studies of the local wildlife around us, to the Champion and Leader of the Year Award that celebrates the work of individuals who are inspiring their communities to take action for nature.
The virtual ceremony was part of the weekend-long Wilder Festival, watched by people across our two counties. The Trust looks forward to being able to celebrate nature with in-person award ceremonies from next year.
The Trust’s Chief Executive, Debbie Tann, said: “In 2019, when we launched our new strategy to make 30% of our land and sea wilder by 2030, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to reach our goals without the help of individuals, community groups, schools, and businesses. Almost two years later and despite all the other challenges we’ve faced, we’ve been blown away by the ways in which people are making space for nature. This year, and every year, we want to celebrate these inspiring people who’re doing so much for wildlife. We’re so proud of the achievements made by everyone who was nominated.”
Mary Parker, winner of Outstanding Contribution Award has been volunteering with the Trust for almost 20 years now. Her volunteering roles have ranged from being the Trust’s treasurer to helping pull Himalayan balsam in our reserves. Mary remarks, “Volunteering with the Trust is so rewarding. Doing something useful in wonderful places, with friendly people - helping the wildlife of Hampshire. It’s a great movement to be involved in.”
Natalie Harris, winner of this year’s Norman Pasley Award for Campaigner of the Year, is a social media activist. She runs a campaign called ‘Clean our Seas’, sharing it with her large Instagram following. She has also used her Instagram platform to help promote the Trust’s Secrets of the Solent project. She said, “I am thrilled to receive the Campaigner of the Year Award and very thankful to the Trust for recognising my work. I love protecting the wildlife along our coastlines through my Clean Our Seas campaign and moments like this really encourage me to do all I can.”
Environmentalist Norman Pasley, the donor behind the Norman Pasley Award for Campaigner of the Year also announced a new fund during the ceremony. Environmental campaigners of all backgrounds will be able to apply for the chance to win up to £500 to support a local campaign or project in our two counties.
Schools were also recognised for their work to engage the next generation with nature. St Alban’s Primary School have been slowly transforming their school grounds to make space for wildlife. Their pupils created the Polli Promise campaign, asking everyone to save 1 square metre of their outdoor space for wildlife. St Alban’s were named the Trust’s Wilder School of the Year.
Elliot and Heidi, school children from St Alban’s Primary said, “We are really happy to be the ‘Wilder School of The Year’ because people will now know that we love wildlife and are trying to help nature. We hope that people will copy us and do lots of things for nature, in their spaces.
“We are proud of ourselves because we are gentle and look after creatures. We make bug homes and we planted flowers for the bees. We have lots of watering to do and it’s a big job but we do it to look after the flowers.”
Jill Doubleday, representative of Friends of Peartree Green, winner of the Group of the Year Award said, "We are thrilled to receive this award in recognition of the work the group has done, and continues to do, to enhance Peartree Green local nature reserve, and in encouraging others to use it. I'd like to say a very big thank you to our committee, members, volunteers and supporters past and present. It is fantastic to be part of the Team Wilder family".
Ben Constable, a Marine Champion with Secrets of the Solent and named one of the Trust’s Champions of the Year said, "Whilst it's nice to be recognised for contributing to the Trust, our wildlife is struggling so much at the moment that we must all make an effort to save it together, as one big community."
The full list of winners are: Dr Deborah Harvey (Brough Naturalist Award), Southern Co-op (Business of the Year), Natalie Harris (Norman Pasley Award for Campaigner of the Year), St Alban’s Primary School (School of the Year), Friends of Peartree Green (Group of the Year), Ben Constable and Mathilde Chanvin (Champions and Leaders of the Year), Ian Boyd (Wild Card), and Mary Parker (Outstanding Contribution).
The full shortlist of nominees can be found at www.hiwwt.org.uk/wilder-annual-award-shortlist-2021
If you’ve been inspired today, find out how to become part of Team Wilder at www.hiwwt.org.uk/team-wilder