Volunteer wildlife heroes celebrated at Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards

The winners of the 2016 Community Biodiversity awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The winners of the 2016 Community Biodiversity awards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The inspirational efforts of Norfolk's volunteer wildlife heroes were celebrated at a special awards event, honouring the county's best environmental and conservation projects.

The 13th annual Norfolk Community Biodiversity Awards were presented by the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership (NBP) at the Abbey Conference Centre on Bracondale in Norwich.

Andrea Kelly, chairman of the NBP, hailed the 'amazing' quality of this year's nominations and praised all the finalists who had 'gone the extra mile' to make a difference for wildlife and people within their community.

And at a time of political upheaval and uncertainty over how environmental projects will be funded after Britain leaves the EU, she said it was important to justify the benefits of investing in biodiversity.

'Nature is not just about nature,' she said. 'We need it for our health and we need it for our children and we need it for our lifestyles and society. We need to put nature at the top of the agenda, and we all have a role to play in that.'

Lifetime achievement award winner Richard McMullen, who has spent more than 30 years advising farmers on environmental stewardship schemes, added: 'I am very humbled to be among some very worthy recipients.

'I have worked with many volunteers over the years and it is nice to know it has been acknowledged I have made a difference on the ground, but we are moving into a period of massive uncertainty and I hope we can keep the community spirit of wanting to do something for wildlife going.'

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The awards are run by NBP's communities and nature topic group, whose members are drawn from organisations including The Conservation Volunteers, Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Norwich City Council, RSPB, district councils and Norfolk County Council.

Paul Holley, chairman of the NBP's topic group, said: 'This is the thirteenth year for the Community Biodiversity Awards. Over this time we have celebrated some outstanding conservation projects and individuals who have made a real difference in their local communities.

'Working together on conservation projects is a great way to make a difference for wildlife alongside benefits for human health and wellbeing.'

The awards were sponsored by The Landscape Partnership, Kelling Heath Holiday Park, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Diocese of Norwich.


• Parish and town councils: South Wootton Parish Council, for 'connecting the community with improvements to South Wootton Park, and other biodiversity projects in the parish'.

• Commons and greens: Litcham Common Management Committee, for 'continuing commitment and hard work to achieve the conservation of Litcham Common'.

• Churchyards and cemeteries: Joint winners: The Friends of Great Yarmouth Cemetery and St Nicholas Churchyard, for 'involving their community in the care and improvement of the cemetery for wildlife and people'; and Wymondham Abbey for 'managing their churchyard with wildlife in mind and involving the local community in the process'.

• 'Inspiring Others': Geoff Doggett, for his 'determined and inspirational leadership in developing and linking the River Waveney Trust with the wider community'.

• Group award: Little Ouse Headwaters Project, for 'the imaginative way they have involved and informed their community in their ambitious, large-scale conservation work in several parishes'.

• Lifetime Achievement Award: Richard McMullen, for 'his work over 30 years inspiring landowners to incorporate conservation practice into their farming activities, thus improving the prospects for farmland biodiversity'.

For the first in a series of features on the award winners, see Saturday's EDP Farm and Country section.