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Published on : Saturday, January 23, 2016
National Parks UK is delighted to announce the winners of the 2015 Volunteer Awards, reflecting the very best of the hundreds of people and projects that work tirelessly to protect and improve Britain’s breathing spaces.
The quality of this year’s candidates was exceptionally high. In the words of Helen Steer, one of the Volunteer Awards judges, all the nominees are “credits to their families, their communities, and, most of all, to themselves.”
The annual awards are a way of saying “thank you” for the thousands upon thousands of volunteer hours put into the UK’s 15 National Parks. All of this year’s winners are also strong testament to the incredible benefits of volunteering, with two of the winners finding greater confidence as a result of their hard work, a project helping people earn qualification, and a group helping to instil young people with a sense of purpose and direction.
The awards are presented in four categories: Individual, Young Person (under 25 years old), Group, and Project. Winners of the individual categories will each receive their choice of kit from outdoor specialist and National Parks UK brand partner Merrell. Whereas winners in the group and project categories will receive a £1,000 bursary toward future volunteering efforts.
Including highly commended nominees, the Volunteer Awards acknowledge efforts from volunteers spanning the British landscape, with the Brecon Beacons, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, and Yorkshire Dales all represented.
Frances Bland, a volunteer in Yorkshire Dales National Park, was named as the winner in the Individual category. A strong advocate of volunteering, she walked more than 170 miles of Yorkshire Dales footpath as part of her work. Highly commended in the category were Tony Carpenter, from the New Forest, and Tricia Brown of the Lake District.
All three nominees in the Young Person category impressed the judges, with New Forest’s Karl Epps ultimately being named winner. A wheelchair user, Epps has worked with New Forest National Park to better ensure inclusiveness at national park events. Highly commended were Ollie Barnett of Exmoor, and Adam Philip-Philips of the Lake District.
In the Group category, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Youth Rangers were named as winners. The group is comprised of nine young men and women who are shaping up to be models of their community. Highly commended was the Brecon Beacons-based Discover Llangorse and Bwlch Alliance.
The winning Project in 2015 was the Fit for Work scheme taking place within the boundaries of Peak District National Park. Targeted at individuals from outside the traditional national parks audience, the project helps participants earn NVQ certificates in countryside management. Highly commended in the category was the Friends of the Lake District’s Fell Care Days project.