Image demonstrating  Award winners have shown their LOVE for Northumberland

Award winners have shown their LOVE for Northumberland

The Duchess of Northumberland has helped to celebrate the very best in community and voluntary environmental work across the county at a special LOVE Northumberland awards event.

Nineteen groups, organisations, schools and individuals were honoured with winner, runner-up or highly commended awards across eight categories.

Representatives of all shortlisted entries attended the event at The Alnwick Garden, which was hosted by local historian and TV presenter John Grundy.

Best new project went to Prudhoe Local History Society for their work on ‘St Mary Magdalene Cemetery restoration’; best urban project to Transition Tynedale for ‘Edible Hexham’; and best coast or countryside project to Allendheads Trust Ltd for ‘Isaac’s Tea Trail’.

The best young people's project category was won by Prudhoe Community High School for ‘re-populating bees in the North East’ and the best children's project by Josephine Butler Primary Academy for ‘Let your light shine’.

The award for an individual whose efforts or commitment help to enrich the environment of Northumberland was presented to three winners this year:  Derek Martin, a volunteer litter picker from Haltwhistle; Lindsay Thompson, a volunteer with Groundwork North East; and five year old Oliver Jackson, a young environmental champion from Blyth.  

The Grace Darling Campus of the Northumberland Church of England Academy won the category for the Best School Recycling Project and the School Sustainable Travel Award went to Shanklea Primary School.   

The annual awards were developed by Northumberland County Council through its LOVE Northumberland campaign, with the aim of promoting the work of the council and its many partner organisations, community groups and volunteers who all help to preserve and enhance the environment in the county.

Councillor Anthony Murray, civic head of Northumberland County Council, welcomed everyone to the awards evening, saying:  "All of the shortlisted entries should be very proud of their work and I sincerely hope that they enjoyed this event, in the inspirational setting of The Alnwick Garden.

“The LOVE Northumberland awards are all about celebrating the work that individuals and groups do, largely in a voluntary capacity, to keep their local areas green and clean right across Northumberland day in and day out.

“Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland has been very generous in giving up her time each year to present prizes to the winners, and we are very grateful to her for this support.”

Main sponsor of the awards again this year was The Banks Group and development relations co-ordinator Jeannie Kielty said:  “Our company has had a long history with these awards - having been pleased to support them since 2012.  All of the groups and individuals do an amazing job for their local communities and I have never failed to be impressed by the range and standard of new applications received each year.  

“We want to make a positive difference in the communities we operate in Northumberland, and this sponsorship is just one of the ways that we feel we can do this - recognising the contributions made by local people in enhancing the county’s environment.”

Other sponsors and supporters of the awards this year have included Marmax Products for their colourful recycled benches and seats; local company Origin Designs who have provided wooden plaques for all of the winners; Jewsons for litter picking equipment: and the Go Smarter scheme for bikes and helmets.

Each winning entry received a £250 prize, each runner-up £100 and highly commended finalists £50, with the money to go towards their project or other work within the local community.  

To find out more about LOVE Northumberland go to

The winners were:

Best School Recycling Project

Rewarding achievements in school recycling and waste minimisation

Winner: Grace Darling Campus of the Northumberland Church of England Academy

Children from Grace Darling Campus have been very busy working on a range of waste minimisation and recycling initiatives for their entry to the Best Recycling project. Following a whole school assembly delivered by Northumberland County Council and workshops in Y3, the school council met and discussed the range of activities and strategies which could be completed around school.
Each member of the school council then completed waste audits around school identifying the main waste items both inside the school and in the school grounds. Findings from this were then shared with the rest of the school and recommendations to minimise waste were made.
Each class from Nursery – Year 6 then completed activities to raise awareness and share information with others to increase the understanding of the learners.
Here’s a taster of some of the things Grace Darling Campus have done-
  • Nursery read the story Big Bear, Little Bear by David Bedford and Jane Chapman and the children made icebergs and bear caves for bears from recycled materials.
  • Recycling stations have been created  in the classrooms
  • Posters were displayed to encourage less food waste in the school canteen area
  • Children have learnt about Earth Day and its meaning and completed personal pledges
  • A new area called ‘be whatever you want to be’ has been created which is completely made of recycled materials.
  • The school now use old and unused exercise books at break times in the yard, allowing children the opportunity to draw and colour and minimising the waste caused by old books.
  • Following a clear out of the school archives and loft space, unwanted books and resources were donated to the Sri Lankan schools projects.
  • Children have completed litter picks within the school grounds and on the paths which lead into school. Some of the children also assisted in the Great British Spring Clean with St. Bartholomew’s Church.

School Sustainable Travel Award

Awarded by Go Smarter Northumberland to schools that have gone the extra mile to promote sustainable transport for the journey to school.  

Winner:  Shanklea Primary School

The winner  of this years Schools Sustainable Travel Award is Shanklea Primary School in Cramlington,  Head Teacher, Helen Brown and her staff have enthusiastically embraced the sustainable travel message, ensuring that they
take every opportunity to incorporate active travel into everyday school life at Shanklea.  Their school council have become Junior Travel Ambassadors and they pro-actively use their expertise and student voice to initiate community change.
Here are just some of the fantastic  projects which the school has delivered this year:
  • A group of pupils- ‘The Bike Crew’ led on a project to landscape some wasteland beside their cycle shed, decorating the bike shed and installing more cycle storage and a seating area, the pupils involved have a great sense of pride in their achievements and they have also enthused the rest of the school.
  • The school has an annual residential cycling trip to Kielder Forest, with pupils taking part in various cycling activities during their stay.
  • Two members of staff have been trained in bike maintenance in order to support the many cycling initiatives which the school take part in such as:
    • Riding Without Stabilizers, Bikers Breakfasts and Bike Maintenance sessions, Bikeability Training scheme and establishing the pupil Bike Crew Champions within the school.
  • The school has appointed Sports Leaders  to ensure that healthy, active lifestyles and sustainable travel are promoted throughout the year.
  • Each year the school holds  a  Road Safety enrichment week, where activities such as assemblies, competitions,  Be Seen, Be Bright activities, visits by the local School Crossing Patrol staff and the Police take part.   
  • Shanklea Primary also takes part in Northumberland’s  Child Pedestrian Training scheme which teaches pupils how to cross the road safely a vital life skill.
  • The school has successfully  lobbied for installation of new path and traffic calming measures near their school to improve safety for those walking and cycling.

This year the school also achieved gold in the National  Modeshift STARs  accreditation scheme, after working through bronze and silver levels  in only one  year delivering in excess of 50 sustainable travel  initiatives and this  October they planning a  school cycling  trip to Amsterdam so that pupils and staff can  experience the Dutch cycling culture first hand.

Runner-up: Mickley First School

Best children’s project

Open to entrants where the majority of participants are aged 11 years and under.  This includes schools and out of school children’s groups such as scouts, brownies, cubs, rainbows, boy’s brigades etc.

Winner:  Josephine Butler Primary Academy - Let your light shine!

By focussing on the mental and emotional well-being of the children the school have created a number of areas in the school grounds.

The children have built and planted a raised bed in the yard. The bed is planted with herbs and vegetables that parents can help themselves to as they pass.  The areas also has a lighthouse and deckchair linked to their ethos of ‘Let Your Light Shine’.

This is celebrated further in the Primary Drop off zone; the children and parents have worked together to design and make a giant stone representation of the NCEA emblem.  Using local stone and learning new skills the area has been cut, and the stone placed and cemented and the school are planting plants and flowers around it in the Academy colours.  They are hoping to enhance it with a daffodil island and a primrose path ready for next Spring.

As a community they have also built a new rabbit hutch and pen using recycled materials donated by local families.  This houses two rescue rabbits, Luna and Honeycomb.  They are used as “reading rabbits” in school and are petted by the children while reading, to alleviate any stress or anxiety related to reading aloud.

The children have raised money to fund these projects by selling artefacts and plants that they have made using recycled materials.  They set up a mini enterprise at The Grainger Market in Newcastle and sold items in the school’s Christmas Fayre and the Easter Fayre.

By looking at ways to enhance the environment and benefit the community the children are truly letting their Lights Shine in an innovative and creative way.

Runner up:  Newsham Primary School - Newsham Love Northumberland

Highly commended:  Morpeth All Saints First School - Outdoor Learning

Best Young People’s project

Open to entries where the majority of the participants are aged 12 to 25, including schools, colleges, youth groups and other organisations.

Winner: Prudhoe Community High School - Re-populating bees in the North East

For the past two years the pupils of the school have been meeting twice a week working on the problem of the decline in bee populations due to pesticides, habitat destruction and the various mite parasites.

They have been researching into what ways they could help.  Firstly they collected data scientifically by watching the number of bee visits to each type of flower in the area.  They then calculated if there was a statistical difference in the number of bee visits to each flower to determine which flowers the bees preferred.

They designed a garden habitat which incorporated these flowers and designed bee houses for solitary bees and made models of them.  They researched the cost of hives and equipment for a colony of social bees and are looking at ways of raising the money to buy this equipment.

They have raised awareness within the local community and given advice as to what flowers are best for the bees in their gardens and producing advisory leaflets and spread this word by hosting coffee mornings, producing a bee song and music video, and even appeared on BBC News representing the North East

They have travelled to Northumbria University for the Big Bang Science Fair regional competition and travelled to Birmingham for the National event, spreading the word even further and promoting the County.

Best Urban Project

This award is open to entries where the project or activities benefits a more urban area, where a lot of people live.

Winner:  Transition Tynedle - Edible Hexham

This group have been together for 4 years and they were inspired by the ‘Incredible Edible Todmorden Project’ in Yorkshire which has been credited with inspiring to live more sustainably and to foster a feeling of community cohesion and pride in their town.

In Hexham they do the same, but on a smaller scale.

In small neglected areas of land a growing number of planters have been planted with fruit and vegetables and are kept maintained.  All the produce is available for the public to harvest and eat.

To date they have 16 planters and 5 planted areas and most of the planters are maintained by local businesses or the community groups.

Their aims are many – to demonstrate to the public how easy it is to grow your own at home and encourage gardening, to work with as many local groups as possible and connect people through gardening, and to enhance the Hexham Environment with beautiful and interesting displays.

By replacing modern bedding plants and council plantings with fruit, vegetables and particularly herbs and edible flowers, they are replacing sterile, non-nectar producing plants with a source of food for many more insects, in so doing this is increasing biodiversity within Hexham.  Plants of any kind are proven to enhance local environmental quality and this group aim to have as many areas as green as possible.

In the past Hexham was a famous local fruit growing area and they hope to replicate that heritage too!

Runner up:  Seaton Sluice Community Association - Seaton Sluice in Bloom

Highly commended - Friends of Berwick Castle parks - Berwick Parks Project

Best Coast or Countryside Project

Open to entries where the project or activities take place in more sparsely populated or rural areas of Northumberland.

Winner:  Allenheads Trust Ltd - Isaac’s Tea Trail

Isaac’s Tea Trail is a community based long distance footpath running though South West Northumberland created and maintained by volunteers.  It runs over the moors and rivers around Allendale Common in an area of exceptional beauty and follows in the footsteps of the legendary itinerant tea seller Isaac Holden.

Since its inception volunteers have worked with Northumberland County Council’s Countryside Team.  They have responded to many challenges over time but since 2008 with the administrative support of Allenheads Trust Ltd have successfully attracted walkers from near and far.

From a rudimentary trail created partly to support local youth hostels, it has become recognised nationally and featured on the radio 4 “Ramblings” programme with Clare Balding. The trail is free of charge with the way marks and logos maintained by volunteers and the income raised from the sale of the trail guide is reinvested in signage and leaflets which makes the trail sustainable.

Hexham Ramblers provide a stewardship role, renewing signs and clearing summer vegetation with the help of other individuals and groups.  The Allen Valleys Landscape Partnership project has refurbished Isaac Holden’s hearse house into a roadside shelter and information point and a ramp for disabled access has also been installed.

It is also used by Duke of Edinburgh groups and local school groups have integrated Isaac Holden’s life story into their teaching lessons.  Older age groups from the University of the Third Age and others from Church and Methodist walking groups have all enjoyed walking the route.

The trail falls within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passes in Monks Wood and Haggs Bank which are designated Sites of Special Scientific interest.  It gives walkers the chance to see at close quarters, especially in Spring time, the flower rich hay meadows and ensures they leave only the gentlest of footprints with the minimum of disturbance to the wildlife and moorland birds.

Whether full trail walks or those doing short walks they make a significant economic contribution to support local services and accommodation providers.

Runner up:  Longhorsley Parish Council - Longhorsley Community Woodland

Highly commended: Longhoughton Parish Council - Boulmer Meadowland Project

Best New Project

This category is open to activities and projects that have started within 12 months prior to the launch of the annual call for LOVE Northumberland award nominations.

Winner:  Prudhoe Local History Society - St. Mary Magdalene Cemetery Restoration

The start of this project could by titled ' the lollipop lady, the lime tree and Local Services'. Overhanging branches from the old churchyard in Prudhoe were causing a problem with the school crossing patrol, and when Local Services removed them, a contact was made between Eddie (the lollipop lady's husband) and the council officer. He then worked with the Local History Society and the council to set up an ambitious project to tame the wilderness in the site which had been closed in 1909 and overgrown since the early 1980’s.
The Prudhoe and District local history society had been keen to transcribe the headstones within the churchyard for years, but unfortunately the extreme vegetation cover meant they had never been able to get in and see them, it was like something out of Indiana Jones!
With help from the council, support from the church, and grants from the Town Council and Land of Oak and Iron Project, volunteers started work on site in January this year, removing tonnes of fly-tipping and a vast amount of undergrowth. Things sped up dramatically by the addition of some mechanised help by Neighbourhood Services for a few days before the grass cutting season, but after this 6-12 regular volunteers have met at least twice a week on site to clear it by hand. 
Now that the site is open and accessible, people from the town are now coming in to see graves of relatives. Some fascinating stories of previous residents and heroes are being discovered and family trees are being completed. It has reached out and involved the school next-door, the WI, the library, the University of the 3rd Age and other groups.
The site is showing evidence of a wide diversity of bird life, small mammals, bats and deer have all been spotted in the cemetery.  The restored site will provide an environment for all of this wildlife to flourish, a local conservation group has already shown interest in using the cemetery to study the wildlife and plants situated there.
There is still an amount of work to do, research into history, some very uneven areas of ground to make good and some fallen monuments to raise and read, but this is a dramatic improvement in the town, a truly 'monumental' achievement in just 6 months, so well done Prudhoe and District Local History society!

Runner up: Friends of Lyne Dene/Groundwork NE - Discover the Dene

Highly commended: Ponteland Community Partnership - Old Railway Line Bridle Project


Outstanding Individual Awards

A category where we have invited people to nominate an individual whose efforts or commitment help to enrich the environment and the lives of residents in Northumberland. This year we have recognised three special individuals.

Winner: Derek Martin
Unfortunately due to a recent illness Derek was not able to be at the awards, so Councillor Ian Hutchinson kindly took his award to him at hom.

Derek has steadfastly and faithfully carried out a volunteering role for 14 years in Haltwhistle.

He picks up litter around the town almost every morning, throughout the year, in all weathers.  He is out for at least 4 hours every day with his litter picker and barrow and clears the street before some people have even woken up.

He reports any large items to the Town Council, and sometimes gets an earful off residents thinking he works for the Council, as he is such a familiar sight not realising that he does this as a volunteer.  He was nominated for his dedication and the pride he has in the work that he does.  

Apparently there have only been two occasions when Derek was unable to do his litter picking due to an injury and illness but after each illness he has returned to his duties.  

Haltwhistle Town Council is very grateful for Derek’s volunteer work and recognises the enormous difference he makes to the cleanliness of the town, making it a far nicer, cleaner place for residents and visitors alike.  It helps to make a good impression and encourages visitors to enjoy their stay and return.  

They are delighted he will receive the recognition that they feel he deserves.

Winner:  Lindsay Thompson

Lindsay became a volunteer with Groundwork North East six years ago and from being a person who hardly knew which end of the spade to dig with has grown from strength to strength, overcoming her own nerves and anxiety.  Her knowledge of tools and environmental management has evolved so much that she now leads tasks for groups of volunteers and keeps everyone else right.

From an environmental improvement Lindsay has spent over 2,000 hours improving green spaces across Northumberland for both people and wildlife.  Working on a huge array or projects to help manage a wildflower nursery, developing gardens at care homes, schools and hospitals, hand raking acres and acres of wildflower meadows, footpath work, building picnic tables, planting trees, installing interpretation and signage.  Removing literally thousands of redundant tree guards.  She has set up a Forest Schools project, been involved in removing Himalayan Balsam along the Wansbeck, and also involved in the Growing Well Garden at Wansbeck General Hospital which achieved one of our awards in 2015.

She has worked from Berwick to Hexham, including Bedlington an Ashington and most places in between.  So many fantastic environmental projects have been able to take place because of the hard work Lindsay has put in helping with the initial set up and infrastructure.

If this wasn’t enough in 2015 Lindsay cycled, with support from a Groundwork member of staff coast to coast along the John Muir Way to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our natural spaces and to raise funds for a Dementia Gardening Project based in Bedlington.  By the time of these awards Lindsay would have also completed a walk coast to coast across the Highlands to raise funds for an Older Persons Active Green Living Allotment Project.  

She is incredibly brave and committed to improving the environment and enriching the lives of residents in Northumberland.

Winner:  Oliver Jackson

Our final award this evening is to recognise a very special young boy who is an aspiring Environmental Champion.  Five year old Oliver’s mum contacted us to tell us about his outstanding efforts at the end of the Northumberland LIVE Event in Blyth.  Oliver was appalled at the amount of rubbish left behind by the public and decided to set about picking up the litter.  

Such a display of community spirit is something that we would love to encourage and reward, so as a way of saying thank you we have some gifts for Oliver – our very own “little litter picking champion”.
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