SSE North West Environmental Fellow named as National Trust ‘Inspirational Hero’

Matt Smith, Fresh Team UK was among the green heroes celebrated in the first National Trust Octavia Hill Awards.

Six winners were announced on 22nd May 2012 at a special awards ceremony in London.

The awards are named after the National Trust founder and social reformer Octavia Hill who died in 1912. They are being run in partnership with Countryfile Magazine.

Nominated by the public and then put to an online poll that saw nearly seven thousand votes, each winner is keeping the spirit of Octavia alive – standing up for precious natural spaces and places. 

Matt Smith from Bootle, Liverpool is the ‘Inspirational Hero’
Social Entrepreneur Matt is a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs North West Environmental programme having set up Fresh Team UK. Fresh Team UK works to increase worthwhile engagement with young people. They run environmental after school projects, where young people, schools and local volunteers, learn more about the environment, gain nationally recognised qualifications and work to improve community cohestion and building bridges with young people.

Matt is also tackling anti-social behaviour by getting young people into the outdoors. Not afraid to push himself he joined a month-long expedition down the Amazon aged just 15. Now six years on Matt uses his experiences in his work with children organising nature hikes, camping and self-sufficiency trips that educate, inspire and sometimes change lives.

The Awards attracted more than 160 entries and a final shortlist selected by a panel of judges with a wide knowledge of green and social issues. Sitting on the panel  alongside Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, were Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine, academic and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts and journalist and writer Candida Lycett Green.

The public then voted, in their thousands, for the shortlisted entries.
 
Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “These awards have shown that the Octavia Hill story resonates strongly today. As a nation we have a love for green spaces and see their value in providing refreshment for the mind, body and soul. And we’re still prepared to stand up for them.

“The winners and runners up show extraordinary achievement and real pride in their work. They fully deserve this recognition for their passion, endeavour and determination.”

Fergus Collins, editor of Countryfile Magazine, said, “There are many, many people out there who understand the value of the green outdoors for our mental and physical health, and they’re working, often against the odds, to protect them – usually in an unofficial capacity.

“Anyone who gives their hard-won time, energy and expertise to benefit the wider community and environment has my sincere thanks and the winners of these inaugural Octavia Hill Awards are particularly inspirational.”

Each of the winners will receive a specially commissioned bowl made by Tony Alderman who works at the National Trust’s Chartwell in Kent. The bowls have been made using English elm, oak and yew collected from woods near to Crockham in Kent where Octavia Hill lived.

They also win the opportunity to be mentored by a Trust expert and will be profiled in Countryfile Magazine.

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