Accolades honour environment efforts of county’s communities

Grange View First School was runner-up in the school waste category. Pictures by Andrew Bryson Photography.
Grange View First School was runner-up in the school waste category. Pictures by Andrew Bryson Photography.
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Groups, organisations and individuals across the county were honoured at the LOVE Northumberland awards ceremony on Monday evening.

Representatives of all shortlisted entries attended the event at The Alnwick Garden, which was supported by main sponsor The Banks Group and hosted by BBC Look North’s Carol Malia.

Northumberland County Council green spaces officer Emma Evans, right, joined the Duchess to present an award to Kenneth Thompson.

Northumberland County Council green spaces officer Emma Evans, right, joined the Duchess to present an award to Kenneth Thompson.

The accolades were handed out by the Duchess of Northumberland.

Coun Alan Sambrook, civic head of Northumberland County Council, said: “These awards are about celebrating the fantastic work that people do in a voluntary capacity, individually and collectively, to improve our environment right across Northumberland.”

The award for an individual whose efforts or commitment help to enrich the environment of the county was presented to four winners this year.

Peter Dawson has volunteered many hours of his time for the charity MS Research and Relief Fund (MSRRF), which is based at Benmar House in Morpeth.

The Duchess of Northumberland presents Peter Dawson with his award.

The Duchess of Northumberland presents Peter Dawson with his award.

He works in the garden at the centre at every opportunity that he can whenever his wife, who has multiple sclerosis, goes there for exercise and therapy treatment.

He has a regular group of three or four people who help him with the bigger jobs and he encourages people to donate items such as plants, soil, bulbs and compost.

Mr Dawson has worked tirelessly in all kinds of weather to redesign and maintain this now stunning MSRRF facility and he has also set up a From the Garden plant stand where people can give donations for cuttings and other features.

Kenneth Thompson has worked as a volunteer gardener in Carlisle Park, Morpeth, for the last 12 years.

Aaron Ward, one of the individual winners, and the Duchess of Northumberland.

Aaron Ward, one of the individual winners, and the Duchess of Northumberland.

He has travelled by bus from his home in Warkworth every Monday and Wednesday and he is a much-valued member of the staff team – supporting the gardeners Mark and John in their efforts to keep the attraction in a colourful and pristine condition.

He can turn his hand to all manner of tasks, such as looking after the aviary and feeding the birds, weeding, planting, litter-picking and leaf collecting, and he carries them out to a very high standard.

Since Kenneth’s arrival in 2004, the park has been awarded the Green Flag accreditation every year and he has contributed significantly to this record.

Aaron Ward has been a dedicated volunteer at Bolam Lake from the age of 14.

The 18-year-old is out in all weathers with the site staff and the tasks he carries out include litter-picking, ditch-clearing, rhododendron-thinning, helping with sick wildlife, helping organise the events programme, back-marking walls, informing visitors about the country park and helping them to make the most of their visits.

He has been visiting the lake from a young age and developing a keen interest in all things wildlife has led to him doing a Level 3 Countryside Management course at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus.

Jean Bell, the manager of the Briardale Community Centre in Blyth, was the other individual winner.

She has supported different individuals and groups in a variety of environmental projects for 16 years.

The runners-up included Grange View First School in Widdrington Station for the school waste category.

The school council team has been encouraging recycling throughout the school by educating children and staff to use the correct bins in each classroom and pupils have been telling family members about the importance of recycling.

From the plastic bottles they recycled in one week, Grange View saved enough energy to power a light bulb for 180 hours or a television for 135 hours.

Winning entries received £250 and runners-up £100 for their project or activities.

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