A youngster from Kent has scooped the 2016 Fields in Trust 'Young Champion' Award, sponsored by Groundwork.
Toni Dixon, was recognised for her volunteer work with the North West Kent Countryside Partnership, where for the last three years has helped to create pond and wildlife areas in schools, chalk grassland maintenance, woodland coppicing and chalk river enhancements. During her time volunteering, Toni has also played a role with the Partnership’s educational work by supporting volunteers with additional needs at the allotment programme and developing her own surveying skills.
The Young Champion Award celebrates the efforts of young people aged 16 to 24 who go the extra mile to champion their local green spaces through encouraging others to get involved and enhancing the spaces for users. The North West Kent Countryside Partnership nominated Toni for the award, describing her as a ‘valuable asset to the countryside sector’.
Speaking after receiving her Award at the Ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Toni Dixon said: "I am so overwhelmed, delighted and thankful to Fields in Trust to accept the Young Champion Award 2016."
Sarah Reece-Mills, Director of Partnership and Programmes for Groundwork was there on the night to present Toni with her much-deserved gong alongside the Awards presenter, BBC broadcaster, Jill Douglas.
"I was absolutely delighted to present the Fields in Trust Young Champion Award to Toni," said Sarah.
"The hard work and dedication she displayed towards volunteering to make a difference in her community is nothing short of inspirational. It's young people like Toni who are the green space heroes of the future, and it’s right that we celebrate their enthusiasm and passion to create better, greener places for their local community."
Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: "The work of Toni, and the hundreds of more young people like her across the country, is vital to ensuring local green spaces remain true community assets. The Fields in Trust Awards help recognise the role that parks and other green spaces play in our communities, bringing people together and creating a safe outdoor environment that everyone should have access to no matter where they live. We believe that as a nation it is time to revalue these green spaces and consider the positive impact they have on our physical, mental and social health and well-being and the savings to the public purse they represent in terms of preventative medicine.
"Thank you to Groundwork for their support of this Award. Congratulations to Toni on her well-deserved award and for being such an inspiring example to other young people."
Also shortlisted for the Fields in Trust Young Champion Award supported by Groundwork were Groundwork’s own volunteer, Harry Johnson and Swansea Sport & Health Team member, Adam Thomas.
Notes to Editors
- The Fields in Trust Young Champion Award was open to any individual who has worked to make a difference and engage people on a local green space.
- The Award was supported by national environmental volunteering charity Groundwork which works to create a future where everywhere is vibrant and green, every community is strong and able to shape its own destiny and where everyone can reach their potential.
- The Fields in Trust Awards Ceremony took place on the evening of Wednesday 30 November at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. The evening was hosted by BBC broadcaster Jill Douglas.
- Fields in Trust protect over 2,600 sites across the UK, covering over 30,000 acres.