Pegswood group puts its prize to good use

Front, Coun Kath Nisbet and Laura Waugh, from Groundwork North East. Back, Jeannie Kielty of The Banks Group, far left, and members of the Friends of Pegswood Community Woods group.

Front, Coun Kath Nisbet and Laura Waugh, from Groundwork North East. Back, Jeannie Kielty of The Banks Group, far left, and members of the Friends of Pegswood Community Woods group.

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An award-winning group of volunteers in Pegswood have put prize money towards giving local children an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.

The Friends of Pegswood Community Woods, supported by Groundwork North East, won the Best New Project category at last year’s LOVE Northumberland Awards.

A representative from title sponsor The Banks Group and Kath Nisbet, civic head for Northumberland County Council, visited the site to see how the initiative has grown since the group received the accolade.

Judges for the 2014 awards recognised that the volunteers had vastly improved the former pit heap site by carrying out woodland management to increase levels of light, encouraging more ground flora and wildlife, providing boxes for woodland birds in decline and surveying wildflowers including bee orchids.

The group has helped local residents to access the woods by laying a network of paths and new benches have been made and installed around the site. In addition, members have organised a number of free community events in the woods – they were themed around Christmas, Hallowe’en and heritage.

All category winners receive a small monetary prize and the Friends of Pegswood Community Woods used the funds it received to pay for further training on nature conservation and to start a Junior Rangers group for children to discover wildlife, practise den building and take part in woodland crafts and campfire cooking.

Jeannie Kielty, development relations co-ordinator at The Banks Group, said: “I am delighted to see how the awards have acknowledged a dedicated group of volunteers and I was equally impressed with how the funding has helped them to continue building upon their success.

“We are very proud to sponsor the LOVE Northumberland Awards and to actually see how our support translates to helping volunteers on the ground to achieve more for their community is fantastic.”

Shepherd Offshore and The Helping Hands Company will also be sponsoring category prizes this year.

The ceremony for the 2015 LOVE Northumberland Awards, hosted by BBC Look North’s Carol Malia, will take place at The Alnwick Garden on September 17. Winners will be presented with their accolades by the Duchess of Northumberland.

“The council endeavours to recognise extraordinary people throughout the county who contribute to the conservation and improvement of our landscape and environment, which we are very privileged to have,” said Coun Nisbet.