Five dedicated eco-warriors from the Northumberland Coast Care project have been honoured with this year’s Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation.
Normally awarded to one outstanding volunteer, the judges felt that all five nominees were worthy winners and the accolade and its £1,500 prize has been split between Amanda Crowley, Carol De Brikasaan, John Parkin, Lynne Russell and Raine Doelberg.
In just one year, the Coast Care helpers have each donated hundreds of hours of volunteering on the Northumberland coast; cleaning beaches in all weathers, undertaking wildlife surveys and raising awareness in their own communities.
Although they come from very different backgrounds, the five winners are united by a passion for the Northumberland coastline and a hatred of litter.
Amanda has clocked up an impressive 400 hours’ volunteering and helps out as a site warden at Beadnell, undertaking daily beach cleans and surveys, the latter of which are vital for wider marine conservation efforts.
She said: “Volunteering with Coast Care allows me to give back to an area I love so much.”
John is semi-retired, working two days a week at Bamburgh Castle and doing whatever volunteering he can.
He has taken on the role of site warden at St Aidan’s, undertaking daily beach cleans and surveys of the rocky shore.
John also undertakes practical conservation tasks, including building barn owl boxes.
He said: “I enjoy the volunteer work because it gives me a great feeling knowing what I/we do keep beaches in great shape for everyone.”
Lynne is a senior crown prosecutor and judge, but is currently on a two-year career break.
Since watching Blue Planet II, Lynne wanted to do something to protect the environment,
She said: “I had no idea how bad the plastic crisis was. I have always litter picked wherever I go. I hate litter. My six-year-old son watched Blue Planet with me and wanted to stop the wildlife being harmed.”
As well as cleaning her own local beach on a weekly basis, Lynne has also set up her own group called Litterbugs which works with local school children to get them interested in recycling and picking up litter.
Lynne also writes a monthly column in the Gazette, raising public awareness about plastic pollution.
Meanwhile, Raine has been cleaning her local beach at Spittal, while Carol works tirelessly in the Berwick area.
Emily Reeves, trust manager at The Marsh Christian Trust, said: “We were impressed by this group of dedicated volunteers who have done so much to protect and restore their local coastline, while engaging other members of the community.”
“They are an excellent example of how volunteers, going above and beyond for a cause that is important to them, can make a real difference to the local landscape.”
he Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation is made annually by The Marsh Christian Trust in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts.
It recognises the work of a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to marine conservation.
The award is open to all 46 Wildlife Trusts and receives inspirational nominations every year.
The winner is chosen by the founder and chairman of The Marsh Christian Trust, Brian Marsh OBE.