What does a taxi company in Norwich, a school in Ellingham and an allotment enthusiast in Reepham have in common? They were all recognised at the prestigious Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards 2018-19.
They were in good company – with other winners a volunteer group working in Tuckswood, a school in Reepham and a Norwich community interest company – at the evening hosted by biologist and conservationist Professor Ben Garrod. Speakers included Richard Powell, who was awarded an OBE in 2005 in recognition for his work in environment and sustainability.
Professor Garrod said:
“I was thrilled to have the honour of hosting this event, which is a real celebration of the effort people are making to do their bit for the planet.
It’s particularly inspiring to see the younger participants, who are not just tomorrow’s conservationists but already proving that you’re never too young to make a difference.”
Each of the winners received a handmade sustainable wood trophy and Ellingham VC Primary was presented with three tablets by sponsor Updata and Reepham High School scooped £500.
The winner of the coveted Eco Hero title, went to Matt Willer after a public vote that received an impressive 3,217 votes.
Tom McCabe, interim head of paid service at Norfolk County Council, said:
“Each year the Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards recognise the people, businesses, community groups and schools that embrace an ethos of environmental sustainability. This year we have been overwhelmed with entries across all six categories and tonight we get to celebrate the best of the best.
It is everyone’s responsibility to prioritise sustainability and I believe that these environmental champions will inspire the next generation of exciting eco projects.”
Richard Willson, environmental strategy manager at Norwich City Council said:
“Once again, the judges were blown away by the projects put forward, making it a really difficult job to choose the winners.
The message from the people of Norwich and Norfolk is clear that looking after our environment is everyone’s job.
Tonight is not just about celebrating some of the bigger projects and schemes people are championing but also an excellent reminder that we can all make a difference in our day-to-day life.”
The awards are made possible through the support of a range of businesses and organisations, not just those who apply, but also through sponsorship.
Mark Fisher, commission manager for WSP Norfolk, the main sponsor for the event said:
“WSP is committed to becoming carbon neutral for our own operations by 2025; to achieve 17 per cent reduction in carbon emissions, a 16 per cent reduction in office energy use per meter by 2020 and an 18 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from business travel.
Though we are doing amazing work to cut carbon in our businesses and that of our working partners, tonight is about sharing your stories, adventures and celebrating your commitment to making Norwich and Norfolk an eco-friendlier place to live.”
Summary of the winning projects and category sponsors:
Primary school – sponsored by Updata
Winner: Ellingham VC Primary School
Judges were really impressed with the variety of initiatives, particularly the walking bus, which directly tackles a big issue around sustainable and safe ways of getting children to and from school.
Highly commended: Colby School
Secondary school – sponsored by Veolia
Winner: The Allotment Project at Reepham High School and College
Judges were delighted that last year’s win had spurred the project to achieve even more this year. They were impressed by the innovation shown and in particular the allotment’s sustainable irrigation system, outdoor eco classroom and rope pump to collect rainwater.
Highly commended: Northgate High School
Food producer – sponsored by Norfolk County Council
Winner: Mindful Mondays Project
Judges thought this entry was “an amazing example of commitment to urban sustainability” and hoped other communities would be inspired to create similar projects. The project has 100 registered volunteers and its plans for the future include community cooking sessions.
Highly commended: The Tacons
Community group – sponsored by Pixie Energy
Winner: Norwich FoodHub
Judges said: “This project shows that we can’t separate out environmental and social sustainability – the way in which things like food circulate around society has implications for both the environment and for social inequality; this initiative shows how we can begin addressing those two challenges together”.
Highly commended: New-U
Small/medium business – sponsored by Norwich City Council
Winner: Zero Taxis
Judges said: “This initiative marks a big leap forward in sustainable transport in the city. The move towards hybrid taxis has been really encouraging, but running an all-electric fleet brings unique challenges, and Zero Taxis have done a great job showing what’s possible.”
Highly commended: Homestay Norwich
Eco Hero – sponsored by Vattenfall
Winner: Matt Willer
Along with school pupils, Matt worked to transform an abandoned corner of the school playing filed into an allotment, created almost entirely of recycled items, including 150 fly-tipped tyres.
Judges said: “Matt is inspiring commitment and energy to both sustainability and to teaching. We were really inspired by the humility he brings to the project – the best sustainability leaders are those who give others space to innovate and do things themselves.”
Finalists: Nadia Sparkes and Amy Shaw
Held at the historic St Andrews Hall, guests at the event were provided with a light buffet, produced by community interest company and Norwich’s civic charity for 2018-19, The Feed.