Oxfordshire’s climate action heroes celebrate winning High Sheriff’s Awards
Some of Oxfordshire’s “inspirational” climate action heroes were honoured at an awards ceremony today.
Eighteen groups, social enterprises, individuals, businesses, and other organisations picked up the High Sheriff's Climate Action Heroes Awards for their schemes, ranging from wildlife restoration work to renewable energy projects.
Three community action groups also picked up £500 grants each from Oxfordshire County Council to help them achieve their targets.
Imam Monawar Hussain, the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, said: “The climate emergency is the single biggest issue facing humanity and so I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the recipients of this prestigious award. It has been humbling and inspiring to read the nominations.”
“Taking my theme of celebrating Oxfordshire's heroes, I felt that it was appropriate to celebrate as many individuals, community groups and businesses as possible, who are passionate about climate action and who have made a demonstrable contribution to their local communities.
“I hope that by doing so, not only is this an opportunity to celebrate and recognise outstanding contributions to climate action in the county, but this will also act as a catalyst and an inspiration, for further climate action initiatives in our county.”
One of three double award winners was Thame Green Living. It scooped a prize in the community action category for its Thame Green Living Plan, while its founder and driving force Charles Boundy also won an individual award for his work.
The group, previously known as the RSA Thame Group, created a 10-year environmental plan for Thame from 2020-30, focussing on the themes of biodiversity, water, air, energy, and waste.
Mr Boundy said: “It has been a big part of my life for eight years, from concept to delivery, after starting with a blank sheet of paper. I wasn’t a rabid environmentalist to start with, but I am now!
“We’ve had tangible results such as planting trees, putting in footpaths connecting meadows, encouraging the regeneration of grass verges, setting up walking routes, and promoting cycling. We’ve also introduced schemes for discounted solar roof panels, electric car charging and a local electric car hire club, among others. But it’s also a long-term change project to inform people about the issues, encouraging them to stand up and be counted.”
Also picking up two prizes was the Marston Community Gardening project in Oxford. It was given a £500 grant from Oxfordshire County Council, while the group’s co-founder Alistair Morris claimed an individual award.
Marston Community Gardening began life in 2018 with Mr Morris and his colleagues sharing seeds and produce from their gardens and allotments. It has now expanded into 25 different projects, including food growing and sharing, the planting of several community orchards, two community woods, a handful of wildflower meadows and borders, a couple of hedgerow wildlife corridors, regular litter picking, an eco-hub, incorporating a food larder, tool sharing, bike repairs and cleaning product refills, flower garden, and an electric car share scheme.
Speaking about their plans for the grant, Mr Morris said: “Every single penny we receive goes towards the community. We’ve got a big year coming up in terms of how much produce we can provide. We’re encouraging people to grow veg in their own gardens and can provide them with raised beds, compost, and seeds too.
“Community gardening is a lovely and sociable thing to do but also helps tackle the huge challenge of climate change by reducing food miles. It brings the community together and we need to work together to tackle the problems. If we want to see significant progress, we’ve all got to do it – and we’ve got to do it all!”
Kidlington-based Cherwell Collective, which provides activities guiding people to lower their carbon, distributes surplus food, helps people learn to grow their own food and much more, was a winner in the social enterprise category. Emily Connally of the collective also received an individual award.
The full list of winners in the different categories were:
- Nature Recovery Network and Long Mead Wildlife Site for their Nature Recovery Network and Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project
- Watlington Climate Action Group for Watlington Climate Action, Green Plan and Community Renewable Energy
- Thame Green Living for Thame Green Living Plan
- 21st Century Thame for #ThameTrees
- Hinksey Trail Regeneration CIC
- Uffington Community Garden Association
- Sustainable Wantage Community Benefit Society Ltd
- Earth Trust’s River of Life II
- Cherwell Collective
- FarmED CIC
- Hilary and Graham Brown of Sustainable Woodstock (UK)
- Alistair Morris for various community and green projects, including Marston Community Gardening
- Charles Boundy of Thame Green Living
- Emma Arnold of WeSET Education Programme
- Emily Kerr of Share Our Cars
- Emily Connally of Cherwell Collective
- Dunn School Green Group at the University of Oxford
- Orthotics Team at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
£500 Prize Grant Awards for Community Action from Oxfordshire County Council
- Watlington Climate Action Group
- Uffington Community Garden Association
- Marston Community Gardening.
The awards ceremony was held at the Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation in Headington Quarry, Oxford. A total of 28 nominations were received, with the judges looking at their impact on reducing carbon emissions, sustainability, potential for scaling up, innovation, engagement, and legacy before choosing the winners.
Click Sign up to hear from us and receive the latest news and updates thanks to our fortnightly newsletter, Your Oxfordshire.