Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust launch new awards which celebrate local campaigners helping nature’s recovery

When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on our shores just over a year ago, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, like many other organisations, had to adapt quickly to the necessary lockdown restrictions. Having only launched its new and exciting public-facing programme, Team Wilder, in January 2020, the Trust was particularly concerned whether people would take up the challenge of engaging with their communities to make more space for nature. Though the past year has been challenging for all of us on many different levels, it has also taught us hope and to stay positive. People have overcome these hurdles in various ways, and the Trust is truly inspired by how people have come together to show their resilience and drive for change.

Now, with the roadmap out of lockdown well underway, an atmosphere of celebration is upon us, and the Trust is planning its first annual Wilder Awards event to celebrate those who’ve made a difference in their communities by bringing wildlife back into our lives.

One of the nine Wilder Awards is the Norman Pasley Award for Campaigner of the Year. The Campaigner of The Year Award recognises an individual who has campaigned for positive change for nature and the environment in their local area. In the past few years, The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Trust has seen how campaigners, particularly young campaigners, have played an important part in raising awareness of the ecological and climate crises and encouraging policymakers, businesses, or even friends and family, to take stronger actions for nature’s recovery.

Norman Pasley, sponsor of the Norman Pasley Award, said:

“I’m delighted to sponsor the Campaigner of the Year Award and encourage the precious work of campaigners across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. In my view, we need more campaigners to help nature flourish. All change starts at grassroots level, driven by people with local knowledge, and the energy to succeed. Progress comes from understanding where the threats and opportunities are – and taking actions as required. Many aspects of our lives today are enriched because of the campaigners before us. I hope the campaigners we seek now will become part of this legacy – making nature better for future generations.”

When we think of campaigners, we often think of people like Greta Thunberg or Mya Rose Craig, aka Birdgirl. However, we know that there are also many people living in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who are making very significant changes to their own communities by opposing damaging planning proposals, challenging their local MPs and councillors to act for nature or climate, or generally leading successful campaigns for changes on the ground that make a real difference for local wildlife.

Debbie Tann, Chief Executive, said:

“The Wilder Awards are a vital part of our strategy to create a wilder Hampshire and wilder Isle of Wight. We know that wildlife is in trouble and to turn things around we’ve called on the people of our two counties to join with us in taking positive action to address this. We have been bowled over by the response to our Team Wilder programme and now we want to celebrate and recognise the fantastic work that is being done with these Awards. Not only to say thank you but also to spread the word that there are solutions to nature’s decline, and hopefully inspire even more people to act for wildlife in their communities.”

There are eight more awards categories in addition to the Campaigner of the Year Award. Several of the awards are open for public nominations. You can find out more about the Awards and how to nominate someone you know who deserves recognition (self-nominations are also encouraged!) at hiwwt.org.uk/wilder-annual-awards.