Local conservation volunteers win Hero Awards


Martin Essex, a Richmond-based volunteer, and volunteering groups in Haringey and Cystal Palace have won TCV Hero Awards as part of The Conservation Volunteers’ 2021 annual volunteer celebrations. All received their awards in an online presentation week from 20th-24th September.

The winners of these annual awards are volunteers who go above and beyond in their activities or conservation tasks, inspire others, and make a real difference in their local communities. The TCV Hero Awards are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This year the awards also recognise the amazing work being undertaken by volunteers throughout the ongoing pandemic.

Judith Ressler, TCV Senior Project Officer, nominated Martin Essex as a ‘Green Hero’ for his role in TCV’s Biodiversity Action Team in Richmond and Hounslow. Judith said: “Despite his Chronic backpain and asthma he always gives 100% and he is a wonderful addition to my regular team. His humour and good nature is well perceived in the group. His most impressive skill is his persistence when it comes to heavy tasks. He got so muddy once to remove a log from a ditch that I think he is very happy to be in the thick of it. I can see how volunteering with us helps with his mental health and it must give him a great sense of achievement.”

Another Biodiversity Action Team who complete conservation projects across North London were also winners of the Green Hero Award and were nominated by Mat Pendergast, TCV Senior Project Officer. Mat said: “There are not many things that make me leap out of bed at 6 on a Monday morning, all year round, but the Biodiversity Action Team North do just that! Their dedication to North London’s nature spaces is clear for all to see -€“ they are incredibly hard working and committed, whatever the weather or the task.

“It really warms my heart to work with a group that has such a tight bond -€“ different cultural backgrounds, different abilities, and ages from 18-80, all are immediately made to feel welcome and part of the team. Covid has been very challenging for them, with a number of the core members being part of high risk groups, but the way they have looked after each other, the community groups we support, and even me has been exemplary. Whenever I was struggling, a message seemed to pop up showcasing the wildlife they had spotted on their walks, or the habitat work they had carried out off their own backs at sites we support. They inspire me every time we meet.”

Finally, for this year’s People’s Postcode Lottery Community Network Group of the Year, Friends of Stambourne Woods were the winners out of 1,700 community groups in TCV’s Community Network. The group was formed in 2016 and works with Croydon Council to enhance the biodiversity and amenity value of a small urban wood in Upper Norwood, London. Starting with a single litter strewn path, the area is now the chosen path from Auckland to Church Road and the centre of community where children play and adults take respite walking through a winding tree walk. Monthly conservation and community activities and events have transformed this space over 5 years.

Genevieve Dexter, Friends of Stambourne Woods member nominated her group and said: “The vision is for an arboretum that looks back 350 years through its history to the time of the Great North Wood, when the Wood’s veteran Oak was seeded, and forward 350 years to address new climatic challenges.”

People’s Postcode Lottery Advisor for Climate Change & Environment, Will Humpington, said of the winning group: “In celebrating its heritage and looking to the future, the Friends of Stambourne Woods have not forgotten the here and now, transforming a forgotten urban wood for the benefit of all the community.”

Through the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, TCV can celebrate such fantastic volunteers like Martin, the Biodiversity Action Teams and Friends of Stambourne Woods.

To date, TCV has received over £2 million raised by players. With this money, TCV can extend their work connecting people and green spaces to benefit both the environment and the health and wellbeing of local communities, which is more important now than ever before. TCV’s Community Network membership is also free for new and current members, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.