Woodland work earns top prize

Pegswood Woods group, who won best new project, at the Love Northumberland awards
Pegswood Woods group, who won best new project, at the Love Northumberland awards

Champions of the environment have taken centre stage at a county awards night.

Community groups, schools and businesses attended the Love Northumberland Awards at The Alnwick Garden last week to highlight their valuable contribution to preserving and enhancing the environment.

Prizes were dished out in seven categories, with the Friends of Pegswood Community Woods winning Best New Project.

The initiative was set up by Groundwork North East and sees local residents care for wildlife, feeding and monitoring red squirrels and woodland birds, tend to rare wildflowers, manage wetlands and meadows, thin woodland and create glades.

They have also laid hedges, improved footpaths and organised community events, such as woodland trails and campfire cooking, and they have recently secured funding to stage a heritage event in September, celebrating the village’s mining history.

In the Northumberland Schools’ Recycling Green Points Challenge, Morpeth’s Collingwood School and Media Arts College was runner-up to Josephine Butler Primary after impressing judges with a newsletter about Love Northumberland, poster designs on composting, food waste and litter, a litter pick and a Ready Steady Cook competition using waste food. Pupils even designed a container to reduce lunch packaging.

Morpeth All Saints First School was also a runner-up, taking second place in the Best Children’s Project category for its butterfly garden.

Pupils had obtained a grant from Dobbies Garden Centre to design and create the garden, which was planted up by parents, children and staff.

The area is in the shape of a butterfly and contains planting to attract the creatures. It is part of a wider school project in which children have grown vegetables and flowers and built a three-bin composter.

The winner of the section was The Broomley Bee Project in Stocksfield.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust was runner-up for the Best Coast or Countryside Project for its work at Northumberlandia landform and community park near Blagdon.

The park’s grasslands are home to wildflowers, butterfliers and small mammals, which attract kestrels, while the ponds contain amphibians and damselflies.

Volunteers help with safety checks, litter picks and site maintenance, as well as engage with visitors.

The winner of the category was Spittal Improvement Trust.

The awards were developed by Northumberland County Council and the main sponsor was The Banks Group.They were presented by the Duchess of Northumberland.

Council Civic Head Kathy Graham said: “These awards are about celebrating the amazing work that individuals and groups do in a voluntary capacity to improve our environment right across Northumberland.”

The winners each received £250 towards their project, with the runners-up claiming £100.