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Help decide who wins our Access & Environment Award! Voting now open!

Access & Environment Award (sponsored by PeakUK)

This award celebrates individuals, groups, clubs or organisations that have made a clear positive impact on access and environmental issues. This might be for campaigning locally, negotiating better access for paddlers or going above and beyond to protect and preserve or enhance the environment.

Voting is now open until Sunday 5th December where you can help us decide who will be the overall winner. The following candidates have been shortlisted as the top 3 in the 'Access & Environment' category.

James White

Nominated by Dave Rawding

Reason for nomination

Kingston Kayak Club has always taken improving the environment importantly. However, for one of our young members, this is a true passion. James White, 17 years, has been kayaking for 6 years and has taken part in every river and canal club cleanup. The latest was on the weekend of 18/19th September 2021 when he played a huge role in removing 60 trolleys and 250 bags of rubbish from a badly littered inner city drain in Hull, which is integral to Hull’s flood drainage. If you didn’t know the city was devastated by flooding in 2007 causing millions of pounds of damage and destroying many homes (including those of club members), so restrictions to this waterway have serious consequences for the city. 

James’s enthusiasm means he doesn’t just get the easy to reach items, he clambers up banks and into thick shrubbery to ensure that the area is as clean as it could be. His energy and enthusiasm is contagious. Generally, he arrives from 6th from college to club nights early and does a litter sweep of the urban area our premises are located in. However, he does far more looking after the environment away from canoeing. Through his D of E journey, he has become a member of 2 local Facebook groups ‘The Wombles of Beverley’ and ‘Rubbish Friends’. Both Hull and East Riding groups promote locals’ to clear up their neighbourhoods and then celebrate the achievements with photos of collected bags.

His dedication is such that James doesn’t restrict his efforts to where he lives but will travel to clear up anywhere he knows his efforts could make a difference. He keeps a record of his and his family’s activity and to date, he has collected 240 bags of rubbish (not including the club clean ups).

 In August, James was one of the young helpers at the KKC summer school and NCS programme, both helping inner city children get involved in paddle sports. I wrote the text for this on the 26th September I was informed that early this morning whilst involved in a hospice charity walk he found a distressed person on the wrong side of the barriers about to jump into the River Humber. This is a notoriously dangerous tidal estuary. Through his quick actions, persuasive communications and detailed relaying of information the emergency services were dispatched and resolved the matter leading the individual to safety. He is a beacon of hope for the younger generation and the well-being of the planet and oceans. 

Andy Gee

Nominated by Stuart Gee

Reason for nomination

Andy was challenged in about 2019 by Chantelle Grundy from British Canoeing

“What are you going to do on your River about INNS?”

He decided that the project would be to remove Floating Pennywort (FPW) from the River Stort.

The Canal and River Trust were very helpful in identifying where
FPW could be dumped and they identified land that they didn’t own. Andy visited almost all of the landowners and was given permission to also use their land for dumping.

He did considerable research and found out that our friends on the River Chelmer had been pulling FPW for 15 years. This was when he decided a riddance approach was necessary and not control. This was the start of 
‘The Stort System’. 

Andy gained support from fellow club members of Whoosh Explore Canoe Club
and several members of The Herts and Middlesex Wild life Trust and after about 12 months of pulling out mats and then a further six months of a regular ‘Pennywort patrol’ the entire river has been rid of FPW.

During the winter months of 20/21, The Canal and River Trust found some monies in their budget and the entire River Stort had a comprehensive pruning. This may have been afforded due to spraying of FPW not being required. Of course, no spraying costs will be a year on year saving.

In 2020 Andy had joined the Stort Catchment Partnership. It was that year that he decided on another challenge to bash the Himalayan Balsam (HB). Again adopting a ‘Riddance not Control’ way forward and not just for the local area but for the entire Stort Valley.

As previously volunteers who help out at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and fellow paddlers from Whoosh Explore/weekday paddle group bashed the HB knowing this is several years project.

In 2021 the Stort Catchment Partnership adopted riddance of HB as one of their two major projects and a number of other groups contacted by Andy came and helped. HB from Grange Paddocks in Bishops Stortford to Harlow Mill has now been bashed for two consecutive years.

Beyond sorting out FPW and HB on the River Stort, Andy has shared his knowledge with local and major national agencies such as British Canoeing, Environment Agency, and Canals & Rivers Trust. He recently made a presentation to C & R.T. for the Grand Union Canal and The Stort System has been published by the NNIS.
For several years, he has held an annual environment day inviting people from some of these agencies for a paddle and networking opportunity. It appears he has been a conduit, that possibly hasn’t existed before, whereby national agencies have been brought together and policy can and will be a collective approach for the future.

He has shown what members from a Canoe Club can do for the benefit of the environment.

An annual cost of £23m for spraying and removing FPW was quoted at a meeting of the IWA. If we could be rid of it that would be a year on year saving that could be spent elsewhere and so very good for the environment.

Woody Snapper

Nominated by Chantelle Grundy

Reason for nomination

Aged just 17, Woody Snapper became the youngest person to be presented with the Community Champion award sponsored by Peak UK following his excellent workaround cleanups with his local club Holme Pierrepont. 

Whilst on the water, Woody takes time to speak to members of the public to educate them about paddle clean ups and highlight their importance. Not only does this draw people’s attention to the problems of water pollution but it also enhances relationships with the public and anglers, which is imperative in supporting future access.

During one recent cleanup, Woody helped clear an area covered in vast quantities of rubbish being used by birds to nest. The birds were raising their young amongst the litter risking entanglement or ingestion of the debris, but thanks to the efforts of Woody and his team, the area was cleared, providing a safe and tidy area for the wildlife to flourish.

How to vote for choice! 

Please click here to complete the following voting form and cast your vote for the nominee of your choice, and feel free to share this far and wide within your circles. This voting form will be live until midnight on Sunday 5th December, so be sure to get your votes in.

Once again, thank you to everyone who was nominated, and congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted.

Happy voting! BC Annual Awards Team