People are being urged to nominate Broads volunteers for a prestigious national award

The UK's national parks are calling for nominations for their annual UK National Parks Volunteer Awards. The awards enable the parks to thank volunteers for the thousands of hours of service, effort and dedication they contribute every year, helping to make the national parks Britain's most treasured landscapes.

There are four categories for nominations – Individual, Young Person (25 years and below), Group and Project. The Group and Project winners will receive a £1,000 bursary towards their future volunteering efforts. The Individual and Young Person winners will receive outdoor gear. Nominations will be accepted until midnight on Friday 23 September 2016.

"The Volunteer Awards are always one of the highlights of our calendar," said Kathryn Cook, National Parks UK Director. “We love the awards because they give us an opportunity to showcase our amazing volunteer force and all the tremendous work they put in across the 15 national parks. Help us to find our national park heroes and give them the recognition that they deserve.”

The awards recognise the hard work of volunteers deemed to have gone above and beyond the usual expectations of volunteer service. Beth Williams, Volunteer Coordinator for the Broads Authority, which is a member of the national park family, said: “Many of our projects would be impossible to undertake without the dedication of our volunteers. So please help them to receive national acclaim through these prestigious awards.”

In 2014 the Group award went to the Nancy Oldfield Trust at Neatishead, which offers disabled and socially disadvantaged people the chance to go boating on the Broads. Volunteers take visitors sailing, motor boating and canoeing, and fishing and birdwatching are also available.

Last year’s winner in the Young Person category was Karl Epps of the New Forest, who played an active part in the Mosaic project, helping young people benefit from the naturally positive atmosphere of the UK’s national parks. As a wheelchair user himself, Karl also played a vital role in helping to make more national park events all-inclusive.

The winner of the Individual category was Frances Bland of the Yorkshire Dales. With over 10 years of volunteering under her belt, Frances was a worthy winner of the award. Frances took on the sole responsibility for undertaking the Ease of Use Surveys across the entire national park. Such an enormous effort did not go unnoticed and the 172 miles of walking Frances completed was recognised in the form of her award.

The Fit for Work project scooped the prize in the Project category. The project was designed to engage participants in practical work throughout the Peak District National Park. This was aimed at encouraging those with limited experience of the national parks, conservation or the environment to undertake an NVQ in countryside management to aid their own personal development.

Finally, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Youth Rangers won the Group Award. Aged 16-25, this group of young volunteers was involved in many of the challenges faced by park rangers in Pembrokeshire, as well as championing the idea of volunteering to others. The attendance levels of the group remained high throughout the year, despite some tough conditions and challenging weather.

To nominate a deserving individual, young person, group, or project for 2016, visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk/volunteerawards

More information on the awards, including FAQs and terms and conditions can be found at the same URL.

The volunteer service or project must take place within the boundaries of one of the UK's 15 national parks, but nominees need not be volunteering for a UK national park.

A shortlist of nominees will be released in October and the winners will be announced in November.

To find out more about the work that volunteers do in the Broads, as well as how to volunteer yourself, visit:
www.broads-authority.gov.uk/looking-after/how-you-can-help/volunteering

Wednesday 13 July 2016