Saturday, 7 November 2009

Flintshire rangers scoop top award

Traditional nursery rhymes encourage us to remember the fifth of November as a celebration of the failed attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament, but for members of the Flintshire-based Eco Watch Rangers it will be long remembered as the day they were judged worthy recipients of Wales’s premier environmental award.

Since they were launched in 1990, the Tidy Wales Award ceremonies have recognised individuals, businesses, schools and voluntary organisations that have gone the extra mile to make real and lasting improvements to their local areas.

The awards are administered by Keep Wales Tidy and sponsored by Environment Agency Wales. This year, over 100 deserving entries were received and the ten category winners were each awarded a cash prize of £250. The overall winners were the Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association’s Eco Watch Rangers who were presented with the coveted Tidy Wales Award Trophy and an additional cheque for £500 by Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer for the National Assembly for Wales.

Disgusted with areas of Flintshire that had become neglected and suffered the consequences of antisocial behaviour, the Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association set up the Eco Watch Rangers. Since they were formed last year the number of volunteer rangers has grown to over 300 young members and, with support from local residents, the Wales and West Housing Association and local police, they have removed 500 bags of rubbish and 150 bags of glass, cans and plastic from towns and villages in the county.

TV and radio presenter, Siân Thomas, hosted the proceedings at the St George’s Hotel in Llandudno and the various category winners were as follows.

The School category was won by Ysgol Uwchradd Bodedern on Anglesey and as well as receiving the cash prize they became the latest holders of the Lord Elis-Thomas schools trophy. They impressed the judging panel with their efforts to improve the aesthetic appearance of villages and historic monuments on the island. At the Cemlyn Nature Reserve they rebuilt a stone wall and on the site of the historic Llynon Mill they created a labyrinth and built a totem pole. The runners up were Ysgol Eifionydd from Gwynedd and the Green Group from Ystrad Mynach College in Caerphilly.

The Peter Cambridge Award for Beach Improvement was awarded to the Carers Clean Up Team at the Swansea Carers Centre who had adopted and improved Rhossili beach. The centre provides holistic support for carers and allows them to meet other people in the same situation. They carry out clean ups several times a year and to date have collected 30 skips of waste from the shoreline. The runners up were the 2480 (Holywell) Squadron Air Training Corps and the Gwent House Atlantic College.

The Kelda Water Services Company won the Sue Humphrey Memorial Award in the Business Category. Staff from the company have dedicated over 500 hours to undertake community improvement project across South Wales. Their efforts resulted in 200 black bags, ten skips, 50 tyres and four lorry loads of rubbish being recovered. The runners up were Tal Goed Nurseries and the Penrallt Coastal Campsite on the Lleyn Peninsula.

The Welsh Assembly Government Public Sector award was awarded to the Rhyl West EVA ‘Action Day in Prince’s Street’. The street stood out as having a large number of issues stemming from crime and related environmental issues that were affecting the wellbeing of residents. A day of action was planned which involved eight partners and local residents. Over 45 tons of litter and general waste was removed. The runners up were Caerphilly Council’s Tidy Towns Tidy Places Team and the Rhondda Cynon Taff Council’s Tidy Towns Team.

Pembroke Ponds and Stream Litter Pickers, which was set up to put back pride in the town of Pembroke, were the worthy winners of this year’s Bernard Jones Memorial award in the River Improvement category. Members meet on a monthly basis and have removed 260 bags of rubbish from three sites in the area. They are also involved with graffiti removal, bulb planting and installing picnic benches that have wheelchair access. The runners up were the Bradley Fishing Club, Wrexham and Y Dref Werdd group from Gwynedd.

The Forestry Commission Wales Woodland award was awarded to Duffryn Dads from Newport who were set up to teach children to take pride in their local community by acting as role models. The group was formed two years ago and has since removed over seven tonnes of waste from wooded areas in the locality. The runners up were the All Skateboarding Outcasts (ASBO) from Carmarthenshire and the Stackpole for Outdoor Learning (S4OL) from Pembrokeshire.

The Ely Garden Villagers from Cardiff were the winners of the Community Group category, receiving the Valleys to Coast Community Award. They had undertaken the task of restoring waste ground into green spaces which are in constant use for community activities. The runners up were Cilfrew Residents Association from Neath Port Talbot and the Tonyrefail Environment Association (Rhondda Cynon Taff).

Disgusted by the state of a local wooded bank, the Aman Valley Conservation Association rolled up their sleeves and set about restoring it to its former glory. For their efforts they were awarded the Dŵr Cymru Community Award for the biggest Tidy Wales Week event. The runners up were Spotless from Cardiff and Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg y Castell in Caerphilly.

The Rhiannon Bevan Award for Long Term Effort was awarded to the Moss Valley Angling Club from Wrexham. Formed six years ago, they have worked tirelessly to restore a no-go area around their Fishing Club. During the initial stages they spent three days removing 17 tonnes of litter and waste and they still carry out regular litter picks. The runners up were the Plas Cybi Partnership from Holyhead and the Dyffryn Clydach Volunteers.

The Large Partnership Award was won by the overall Tidy Wales Award winners, Flintshire Neighbourhood Watch Association’s Eco Watch Rangers, who received the Flogas Environmental Partnership Award. The runners up were Bangor Pride-Partneriaeth Maesgeirchen and the Mold Spring Clean.

This year the Helping Hand Company have donated £50 gift vouchers (to be spent on litter picking equipment) to all shortlisted entries in both the Schools and Community Groups categories.


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