On Friday evening, 26 th September 2014, teams from 19 shortlisted countryside projects gathered with more than 100 guests at the eighth annual CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) Hampshire Countryside Awards ceremony at Itchen Abbas Village Hall, Winchester.
The prestigious awards, run by CPRE Hampshire in conjunction with Hampshire Fare and the Hampshire Enterprise Circle, celebrate the county’s diverse, living countryside. The principal supporters of the scheme, Steve’s Leaves, are pioneering farmers who grow tasty, nutritious baby leaves such as watercress, rocket and pea shoots. They employ nature friendly farming, where 10% of the land is dedicated to nature and the creation of habitats to encourage wildlife.
The Earl of Malmesbury, President of CPRE Hampshire introduced the ceremony and Steve Brine, MP for Winchester presented each of the four category winners with an engraved plaque.
In the Community and Voluntary category,supported by The Southern Co-operative, thewinner was the Brook Meadow Conservation Group , Emsworth. Gemma Lacey, head of sustainability, explained what had impressed the judges most during their visit: “This award is in recognition of the group’s sustained work in energising their community, developing a working membership base and drawing in young people to support local conservation activity. Brook Meadow is very close to the town centre and is now a widely appreciated amenity giving people a respect and appreciation of ‘their’ countryside and offering a balance of conservation and recreation.”
Anstey Junior School inAlton won the Young People category for its Community Growing Project. Dr Steve Rothwell of Steve’s Leaves , category sponsor said: “We were impressed with the commitment of all the pupils in the school, which reflected their enthusiasm, understanding and the benefit they have gained from the project. The children we met gave a superb PowerPoint presentation outlining the project, which was followed up with a knowledgeable guided tour and finished with a succinct summary. Throughout they were able to answer all of the questions put to them. The professionalism of the school was apparent throughout, with clear instruction on fire procedures and a high regard for general safety.”
The winner in the Rural Enterprise category , sponsored by Dutton Gregory Solicitors, was Blackwood Forest Holidays , a project established by Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission in woodlands near Winchester. Matt Gilks, associate solicitor, said: “The project highlights the tension between the preservation and the enterprise imperatives which challenge all of us as we try to stand up for the countryside and preserve its inherent and irreplaceable beauty, but at the same time, endeavour to ensure there remain the conditions for sustainable economic development in the countryside for all those living and working in the locality as well as its visitors.”
Finally, the winning project in a new category introduced for 2014 - Green Buildings, supported by Radian, was awarded to the Avon Tyrrell Boat House in the New Forest. Jonathan Rickard, head of design and compliance, explained: “The boat house is a well-conceived, simple structure that uses locally sourced and natural materials, combined with a stunning green roof and well integrated renewable technology to power and provide hot water for this boat house, training and welfare facility forming part of the youth training centre at Avon Tyrrell. The building itself uses a robust and simple modern aesthetic appropriate for our times and a visual display provides users with a clear image of its impressive energy use and generation, further underpinning the building’s green credentials. It will surely inspire and motivate users and visitors alike.”
The following four projects were Highly Commended and received a signed certificate:
- Community and Voluntary – Round About Café , Mansbridge, Southampton
- Young People - The Woodland Walk, Kings Worthy Primary School
- Rural Enterprise - Piecing Together the Hampshire Food Jigsaw, HC3S Hampshire County Council Catering Services
- Green Buildings - Otterbou rne Wildlife Lodge (The O.W.L.) , Otterbourne Church of England Primary School
The Countryside Awards 2015 will be open for applications in the New Year.