National Trust Guest Blog - Octavia Hill Awards

Forest

Volunteering is in our blood and we’re a nation of volunteers that love nothing better that supporting the causes that we believe in. Countless nature conservation organisations, such as Butterfly Conservation, depend on volunteers to perform a vast array of roles.  They can bring experiences and skills from their everyday lives and careers that enrich organisations and add real value to the services that they offer and the work that they do.

Octavia Hill, a social reformer and environment campaigner, was in many ways the ultimate volunteer, dedicating her life to a wide range of causes and showing what could be do in Victorian Britain, a period of huge change for society with rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. 

The Octavia Hill Awards, now in their second year, were set up by the National Trust, one of the many organisations that she helped to found, to recognise her contribution to the concept of volunteering but also her love of and passion for protecting and promoting green spaces. 

In recent years there has been a boom in community led initiatives from creating new woodlands to running an orchard – all helping to create and look after important spaces for nature from birds to butterflies.  These places, which are often quite small, can bring people together to share the wonder of being immersed in nature and seeing how the seasons change. 

It’s often a few individuals that get these projects off the ground.

These awards are all about giving thoroughly deserved recognition to this army of unsung heroes of the environmental movement; people that just get on with it, with no fuss and no fanfare.  The people that have helped to get a greater appreciation and understanding of British wildlife too.

We want to celebrate their achievements and encourage others to roll-up their sleeves and get involved in projects and campaigns where they live, and help to inspire the next generation to get excited and get active. 

Nominations for the Octavia Hill Awards 2013 need to be submitted by the 28 February and more information can be found at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/octaviaaward

Mike Collins, National Trust

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