National Parks accepting volunteer award nominations

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Published: 1 July 2016

Nominations open for 2016 National Parks Volunteer Awards

The UK's National Parks are now accepting nominations for their annual UK National Parks Volunteer Awards. The Awards are a way of enabling the Parks to thank volunteers for the thousands of hours of service, effort and dedication they contribute every year which helps to make the National Parks Britain's most treasured landscapes.

Nominations are being accepted in four categories – Individual, Young Person (25 years and below), Group and Project. The group and project winners will receive a £1,000 bursary towards their future volunteering efforts. The individual and young person winners will receive outdoor gear. Nominations are being accepted until midnight on Friday 23rd September 2016.

"The Volunteer Awards are always one of the highlights of our calendar" said National Parks UK Director Kathryn Cook. “We love the awards because they give us an opportunity to showcase our amazing volunteer force and all the tremendous work they put in across the 15 National Parks. Help us to find our National Park heroes and give them the recognition that they deserve”.

The awards recognise the hard work of volunteers deemed to have gone above and beyond the usual expectations of volunteer service. Last year’s winners included Karl Epps of the New Forest, who played an active part in the Mosaic project, helping young people benefit from the naturally positive atmosphere of the UK’s National Parks. As a wheelchair user himself, Karl also played a vital role in helping to make more National Park events all-inclusive. Karl received the award in the Young Person category.

The winner of the Individual category was Frances Bland of the Yorkshire Dales. With over ten years of volunteering under her belt, Frances was a worthy winner of the award. Frances took on the sole responsibility for undertaking the Ease of Use Surveys across the entire National Park. Such an enormous effort did not go unnoticed and the 172 miles of walking Frances completed was recognised in the form of her award.

The Fit for Work project scooped the prize in the Project category. The project was designed to engage participants in practical work throughout the Peak District National Park. This was aimed at encouraging those with limited experience of the National Parks, conservation and/or the environment to undertake an NVQ in countryside management to aid their own personal development. The project also sought to promote the understanding and enjoyment of the unique qualities of the Peak District National Park.

Finally, the winner of the Group Award was the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Youth Rangers. Aged between 16-25 this group of young volunteers were involved in many of the different challenges faced by Park Rangers in Pembrokeshire as well as championing the idea of volunteering to others. Most of the Youth Rangers have also represented the National Park at public events such as Pembrokeshire Fish Week Festival Opening Day and the Really Wild Festival. They used these events as opportunities to further promote the benefits of volunteering to members of the public. Despite sometimes having to endure tough conditions and challenging weather, the attendance levels of the group remained high throughout the year and they were fully deserving of their accolade. Nicola Felton – Youth Ranger said “It was a brilliant honour to have our hard work recognised by people who understand what we are trying to do!”; Dan Jones – Youth Ranger “I was very happy to be nominated, and really proud of the group when we won the Volunteer Group of the Year Award”

Nominees need not be volunteering for a UK National Park to be eligible. All that is required is that the volunteer service or project take place within the boundaries of one of the UK's 15 National Parks.

To nominate a deserving individual, young person, group, or project, visit:
www.nationalparks.gov.uk/volunteerawards

More information on the awards, including FAQs and terms and conditions can also be found at the same URL.

A short list of nominees will be released in October and the winners of the 2016 National Parks Volunteer Awards will be announced in November.

To find out more about all the work that volunteers do in Britain's breathing spaces, as well as how to volunteer yourself, visit:
http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/about-us/jobs-and-volunteering/volunteering