People forming a heart shape at Alnwick Garden

Community work honoured in LOVE Northumberland awards

The Duchess of Northumberland has helped to celebrate the very best in community and voluntary environmental work across the county at this year’s LOVE Northumberland awards ceremony. 
Nineteen groups, organisations, schools and individuals were honoured with winner, runner-up or highly commended awards across seven categories in what is now the event’s 13th year
Representatives of all shortlisted entries were invited to attend the event at The Alnwick Garden, which was hosted by BBC Radio Newcastle presenter Anna Foster, along with Deputy Chairman and Ceremonial Head of the County Council, Councillor Catherine Seymour. 
Cllr Seymour, said: “We’ve been celebrating the amazing work that individuals and groups do in a voluntary capacity to improve our environment right across Northumberland day in and day out. 
“It is heartening to see so many of us still keen to get involved in protecting the things we care about, our environment and glorious county being something dear to many hearts.  
“Our council teams work extremely hard to ensure that Northumberland is clean, green and beautiful. The efforts of volunteers and local community groups and individuals however is invaluable, it is a huge team effort, and it’s been great to celebrate this through these awards.” 
County Council Cabinet member for Looking After Our Environment Colin Horncastle added:  "All the shortlisted entries should be very proud of their work - there are some fantastic examples of communities working together across our beautiful county. 
“These awards recognise the true heroes of Northumberland and provide a great opportunity to showcase all that has been achieved in the last year in helping keep our communities environmentally friendly.  
“We would like to congratulate each and every finalist for what they have achieved in their work and projects.” 

In the Schools Go Smarter Sustainable Travel Award, Mowbray Primary School took the top prize. The school have created a cycling project to encourage students and parents to travel sustainably. Additionally, Year 6 pupils took part in a camping trip to learn more about sustainability from organisations such as the Environment Agency.  
Judges said they ‘love the passion the children have for supporting environmental causes’. 
Their big dream is to cycle to North Sheilds Ferry terminal and take a trip to Amsterdam. They hope this trip will inspire children to make cycling part of their everyday lives.  
The runner up was Stamfordham Primary School. The school devised a plan to help pupils ‘Get Active’ and learn about the benefits of using the car less. Something that is often difficult for students in this small rural village school.  
The organised ‘Walking Homework’ and ‘Funky Sock Parade’ to encourage children to walk to school. Pupils also completed ‘Bikeability’ cycle training and they now have a cycling club so children can develop their cycling skills further.  
The Best Children’s project winner was Allendale Primary School. The children are all passionate about wider environmental issues. They are very aware that sending items to landfill is not suitable and that litter can be harmful to animals and young children. 
A group of Year 6 pupils planned and delivered a presentation on ‘green issues’ including looking after the local environment. This has inspired some pupils to go litter picking around the village in their spare time.  
The school's efforts have been featured in local newspapers; they also have a Facebook page to promote their activities. 
Highly Commended were Vyner Park Charity- their local volunteers, including members of the local Rainbows Brownies and Guides work together to care for local wildlife and encourage bats and birds to make Vyner park their home.  
Runners-up in this category were Ellingham C of E Primary School- the school is passionate about giving children the desire and skills to love their local area. They applied to Northumberland County Council’s ‘Free Tree’ scheme and planted a range of copse and hedging trees to increase biodiversity and to give the children more outdoor space to enjoy.  
The Best Young People’s Project was awarded to KEVI Environment Council. Students from Years 10 and 11 at Morpeth’s King Edward’s VI School Council spend some time working with Keep Britain Tidy’s local Ambassador Dai Richards. They planned a poster competition engaging children from all of Morpeth’s schools to design posters that would encourage people to vin their litter instead of dropping it on the floor.  
The competition saw 460 entries and the posters were on display at Morpeth Town Hall for an open day. The winning entries were then placed on bins all over Morpeth. The children were proud and loved seeing their works on display.  
Special recognition went to Dylan Sneddon who made an outstanding contribution to the ‘Win Don’t Bin’ project, designing the presentation and sorting through entries when they came in.  
Highly commended in this category was Emily Wilding Davison School. They worked with Arthur, a local labradoodle to form Arthur’s Eco Club. They worked together to complete tasks to care for their local environment.  
Arthur’s Eco Club work closely with young people across Northumberland and inspires everyone involved.  
Rotary of Blyth Youth Projects were the runners-up in the category. They are the first community based Interact and Rotakids group set up for young people aged 12 to 18 and children aged 7 – 12.  
Both groups are currently helping local school, Newsham Primary to enhance their outdoor space for the children.  
So far, they have completed numerous fundraising projects. They have donated funds to the Bebside Horse Charity, and they also assist with projects around the Isabella Heap as well as completing some litter picks.  
This year the Best Urban Project was awarded to Friends of Valley Park. Volunteers have recently worked together to remove litter and blockages in the Valley Park stream, to allow it to flow freely. The stream is the only body of water in Northumberland registered with FreshWater Watch so returning it to its former glory was especially important.  
Earlier this year, the group assisted the Great Northumberland Forest project with the planting of over 400 saplings on site in addition to a new community orchard. Friends of Valley Park continues to care for the trees, ensuring they thrive.  
Regular litter picks have removed years’ worth of litter from the site, and it is now easy to maintain and keep litter-free. 
The runner-up was Isabella Heap Volunteers Group. Isabella Heap Volunteers are a dedicated group of all ages who meet regularly at the old football pavilion at the Isabella Heap.  The purpose of the group is to enhance the local wild area by litter picking, raising the tree canopy in agreed areas, planting new trees and wildflower seeds.  
The group has its own Facebook page to spread information and awareness. The group is run entirely by volunteers, 12 of whom meet every week.  
Moving forward they would like to open up to services to support people with mental health and other health issues. They are planning activities for local young people to take part during school holidays and working to support schools who deliver Environmental awareness days as part of their curriculum by offering a wild open space for students to take part in outdoor activities.   
The two Highly Commended awards went to Cramlington Wildspaces Hub and Friends of Crofton Field
Cramlington Wildspaces Hub held Cramlington Conservation Day, a day they celebrate their environmental activities and efforts throughout the year, raising awareness of the group, the organisations they work with and the work that they do.  
Friends of Crofton Field was set up at the end of lockdown in March 2021, the Friends of Crofton Field Group exists to transform the former heap of Crofton Mill Pit and adjacent car park for the benefit of the public. The most striking part of the transformation has been the creation of a 60 metre long ‘LOVE Northumberland’ border, the longest herbaceous border, freely open to the public, in the county. The garden is divided into 12 small plots, cultivated by a diverse range of groups to grow bee friendly plants from seed. 
Cramlington and District Red Squirrel Group was crowned Best Coast or Countryside Project. Their project, The Thin Red Line saw a rope bridge installed over the busy B1326. The road runs alongside a nature reserve, separating 2 areas of woodland. The group built two rope bridges so red squirrels were able to cross safely. When Storm Arwen wreaked havoc, the group worked hard to restore them. 
Their latest project is the Ben Nixon QR-coded nature trail around the reserve with rubbing plaques for younger visitors.  
Leon Savage the group’s Chair has recently been awarded ‘volunteer of the year’ by Red Squirrel Survival Trust, a national charitable organisation which clearly proves their commitment and success in red squirrel conservation. 
Runner up was Friends of Holywell Dene - In 2021, Friends of Holywell Dene were contacted by Northumbrian Water and asked if they could take part in a national project aiming to improve the environment around waterways.

The path following the Seaton Burn from beneath Holywell Road Bridge to the dismantled Avenue railway line had 3 steep slopes where the grass had worn away and the surfaces were slippery and dangerous, resulting in some walkers and cyclists taking a less arduous route by the river’s edge, trampling on vegetation, dropping litter in or near the river and disturbing habitats. 
Friends of Holywell Dene proposed installing steps nearby.  Northumbrian Water agreed to the provision of materials to construct three sets of steps and provided funds for a chainsaw to assist in woodland maintenance and in clearing fallen trees from footpaths and the Seaton Burn, plus the cost of a volunteer member of the working party to attend a chainsaw operator’s course. 
Since completion of the work, the steps have not only provided safer access for the public they have also visually enhanced the area.  
There highly commended organisation was North Northumberland Branch National Autistic Society. In 2017 the North Northumberland Branch of the National Autistic Society was approached and asked to apply for a grant as the National Garden Scheme had given a portion of their funds to the National Autistic Society for the health and wellbeing of members. The dynamic committee decided they could create their own sensory garden within Northumberland. 
The garden was created with the help of autistic families as their knowledge of being outdoors is very beneficial to those who are neurodiverse. The garden is used by the wider community but specifically groups from schools or other local organisations visit. 
The Best Climate Change Emergency Project was awarded to What a Wonderful World Trust. The What a Wonderful World Festival is a social action campaign working to engage people of all ages in Northumberland, and to inspire action at home and in the community through arts, science and natural world events.  
By increasing the “conversation” across the community and across the age range they hope that people will change their attitudes towards the environment and put pressure on those in authority to take environmental problems seriously. 
 Last year's event attracted over 150 participants. 
The Organising Committee represents the Duchess’s High School, local primary schools, Friends of the Earth, Gallery Youth and private individuals. The What a Wonderful World Project is an ‘Engagement’ Northumberland County Council Climate Champion. 
The runner up in this category was The Duchess Community High School. The Climate Club meets weekly in Duchess Community High School, Alnwick, with around 20 students (mostly aged 12-14) giving up their lunch time to attend.  
The club provides education for members, and this awareness then filters out to other young people and families. Furthermore, it provides enrichment opportunities for club members, and it has seen numbers grow and the club gain momentum - these young people are positively impacting the school community and wider Northumberland. 
The group is currently exploring ways to support the primary feeder schools and would like to replicate and build on the fantastic experience of visiting Ellingham Primary School.   
The highly commended organisation in this category was Tyne Rivers Trust. The trust is an environmental charity that protect and enhance the River Tyne and its tributaries using green engineering methods to capture carbon, reduce flood risk and protect and restore biodiversity. 
Their model of the Tyne catchment and educational sessions were funded by the Reece Foundation after Tyne River Trust identified a need for a hands-on approach to showing school children how the river system reacts to changes in climate. Tyne River Trust also identified a need for free sessions in schools, especially for those schools who struggle to get out on field trips due to rising costs. 
It is a fantastic resource for schools that brings the catchment to life in a fun and memorable way whilst addressing many elements of the national curriculum. 
This year's Outstanding Individual award went to Dylan Coates. Dylan has been nominated for this award by Kate Dixon who is Northumberland County Council’s Berwick Parks Project Rejuvenation Officer, on behalf of the Friends of Berwick Castle Parks.  
Kate said: “Dylan came to the park as a volunteer on a placement with his mentor, Gary, from Berwick Youth Project in November 2022 and has been coming out to work with our established volunteer group in Berwick Parks every Tuesday since then. 
Dylan has added a whole new youthful dynamic to our somewhat older group and has integrated really well.  Being young and fit he has been a great help with some of the more physical tasks and has taken this on without complaint.  We all agree that he is a delight to have around.” 
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. 
Each winning entry in the awards 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.  Outstanding individuals also received a small cash prize and a trophy. 
To find out more about LOVE Northumberland go to 
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