Unsung environmental heroes were finally recognised at the first ever National Trust regional Environmental Awards, held last night at Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge. As always, these things start small – with the thought of sending a certificate to the “Meter Manager of the Year” – which grew… and grew… into the pretty glitzy event experienced last night, complete with Bafta-style envelopes to reveal the winners (extraordinary how excited people get about opening an envelope).
Guests got to enter via a green ‘grass’ carpet – a remnant (which we no doubt reuse, as visiting children were scootering up and down it as soon as it hit the floor), before sipping Suffolk sparkling wine or cordials. Trophies were hand crafted by Essex woodturner, Nick Bright, and engraved by the Bury St Edmunds’ charity Workwise.
Peter Nixon, the Trust’s Director of Conservation, gave a rousing keynote speech. He explained how appropriate the “Fit” in “Fit for the Future” is, with its connotations of health, resilience and “Phwoar-factor”! The awards were also endorsed by Sonja Graham from Global Action Plan, who have inspired our behavioural change programme.
Helen Dangerfield, Head of Conservation and Sponsor of our Environmental Management System in our region, said:
“The awards are something we wanted to do to reward and recognise the huge commitment and efforts made by our teams to think about the environment in all we do. Celebrating achievements is vital in motivating us to keep going. We are delighted that many of our partners have joined with us in supporting these awards.”
The award categories were:
Green Team of the Year
And the Winner is… Sheringham Park, Norfolk
Best Energy Reduction, sponsored by Good Energy And the Winner is… Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. Oxburgh has reduced its energy use by a staggering 35% since 2013. It’s achieved this by LED lighting and changing catering practices, but especially through installing a much more efficient, controllable electrical heating system. Runners up were Sheringham Park and Wicken Fen.
Wise Use of Water Award, sponsored by Anglian Water And the Winner is…Blickling, Norfolk. The team at Blickling has been busy making an array of water-based improvements. A big project is the restoration of a Victorian water management system, which includes a waterwheel, so that it now diverts rain and groundwater to a new irrigation system that feeds the Walled Garden. The system has the added benefit of reducing risk of the house flooding. Runners up were Ickworth and Oxburgh.
Waste-not Winner, sponsored by Biffa And the Winner is… Dunwich Heath, Suffolk. The team at Dunwich Heath has made significant steps in improving its recycling and composting. Not only do they achieve a recycling rate of over 70%, but all food waste is diverted from landfill, travelling only eight miles up the road to Adnams’anaerobic digester, which generates biogas for the gas mains. The runner up was Holiday Cottages.
The Acorn Award And the Winner is… The Countryside Team at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire. Recognising Head Forester Simon Damant’s unabated enthusiasm leading the way in many areas including: woodland management; the revival and promotion of sustainable, traditional countryside skills and crafts (charcoal making, scything, hedge management, green hay, bodging); tree planting in park; hedge planting on large arable fields to reduce erosion and provide habitats; flower rich meadows management and for inspiring a great team of countryside volunteers. The runners up were Pin Mill, Essex and Blickling.
Green Kitchen of the Year And the Winner is… Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. Energy efficiency was a priority for Catering Manager Alistair Bradshaw when creating Felbrigg Hall’s new tearoom, the Squire’s Pantry, so he selected LED light bulbs and thermonstatically controlled electric heaters. The energy use of all kitchen appliances is monitored, with timers ensuring nothing is left on unnecessarily. All of the food waste produced in the kitchens goes to compost, while glass and materials are recycled. Unsold bread and scones are re-used as the ideal ingredient for a tasty bread pudding, while coffee grinds are given to the Walled Garden as they make a good slug repellent. The runner up was Flatford.
Holiday Cottage Hero And the Winners are… Elizabeth and Don Headley, Dunwich Heath, Suffolk. Elizabeth Headley has been looking after four holiday cottages at Dunwich Heath for eight years, along with her husband Don, who has been a volunteer caretaker for four years. During that time they have improved general recycling, and constructed rain water butts and compost bins. Plastic bottles and old kitchen utensils are re-used as containers for growing plants for the cottage on their allotment. Their commitment to recycling even goes as far as soldering a cheese grater handle back on to save it from being thrown away! The runners up were Les Harvey from Sutton Hoo and Cheryl Taylor from Felbrigg.
Fit for the Future Award And the Winner is… Ickworth, Suffolk. Premises Manager David Richardson has led the way at Ickworth with the installation of a variety of energy and water saving measures, reducing energy use despite increased opening times and the opening of the servants’ basement to visitors. These measures include the use of low-energy LED bulbs in chandeliers and show rooms, and restoration and recommissioning of the Edwardian rainwater harvesting system. New projects are designed to minimise environmental impact from the start, such as a log boiler to heat the Porter’s Lodge visitor reception, and an air source heat pump for the new plant centre and toilets. The runners up were Blickling and Oxburgh.
Meter Manager of the Year And the Winner is…Richard Lee, Blickling, Norfolk. Rik ensures all of Blickling’s whopping 61 meters are read on time each month. He never misses a meter and even organises his leave around the meter read weeks to ensure they are completed on time. During that time he’s had to battle through shoulder-height stinging nettles to find water meters, knelt in an ants’ nest whilst sticking his head in the chamber to see a reading only to get up and find ants crawling all over him, had to move frogs off meters so he can read the numbers, and had to fend off curious cows! Runners up were John Stockdale, Brancaster Activity Centre; Richard Gilbert, Dunwich Heath; and Peter Justice, North Norfolk Coast.
A Special Achievement award was presented to the North Norfolk Coast for their outstanding Energy Outreach project, previously blogged about, which included Energy Busters and efutures.
More pictures and information on the award winners on our conservation blog.