Young conservation volunteers celebrated in High Sheriff’s Awards for Children and Young People

Mar 6, 2017

A group of young people who are making a big difference to our Island environment are being celebrated in this year’s High Sheriff’s Awards for Children & Young People.  French Barlow and William Phillips were nominated in a joint application with the Foyer in Ryde and have each won individual awards for Outstanding Achievements while as a special dispensation, the Green Army have won a group award in recognition of the whole team!

The Green Army is a nature conservation volunteer group for 16-25 year olds, run by Vectis Housing Association’s Wild About Wight programme as part of the HLF-funded Down to the Coast. Many of its volunteers are young people in supported accommodation.  Over the last year alone, the team have taken part in a huge range of projects aimed at conserving unique East Wight habitats; working on wetland and heathland restoration at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserves in Newchurch, Sandown Meadows and Arreton Down and helping sustain Island flora and species from bees to Chalk Hill Blues;  creating new ponds as part of the Lost Duver project, sandcasting tiles in a coastal habitat creation experiment for marine wildlife in the Bay and restoring a copse at Branstone Farm.

The High Sheriff’s Awards celebrate the achievements of children and young people who have overcome adversity and become positive role models and/or helped their community.  Many of Green Army’s volunteers face a number of challenges on a daily basis but continue to turn up, come rain or shine.

Award-winner, William Phillips who lives in Ryde, has volunteered regularly for two years, working non-stop on each session and becoming a real mentor to new volunteers.  Will said, ‘I’m really pleased with the excellent news.  Nature is definitely good for you and Green Army is one of the best things I’ve ever done – really worth doing.’

Pete Fellows, Down to the Coast Scheme Manager said “This is fantastic news. It’s very well deserved recognition of the tremendous achievements of all those involved in Green Army and in particular the hard work and commitment of its young volunteers. Onwards and upwards!”

Martyn Pearl, Chief Executive at Vectis Housing Association explained, ‘Vectis HA is very proud of the achievements of the young people who have engaged so successfully on our Green Army initiative.  We believe that offering opportunities to tomorrow’s citizens is one of the best ways to invest in our Island community and to effectively develop the skills and self-confidence that will benefit us all in years to come.’

The winners will attend a special awards ceremony hosted by High Sheriff Robin Courage MBE and Community Action Isle of Wight on Thursday 23rd March.