Wildlife Watch Group of the Year announced

Tuesday 7th February 2012

Lings Wood Wildlife Watch groupLings Wood Wildlife Watch group

A group of young wildlife enthusiasts who regularly celebrate the natural environment through wild camping, pond dipping and bug counting has won the Wildlife Watch Group of the Year title, from The Wildlife Trusts.

The Lings Wood Watch Group, based in Northamptonshire, took the top spot for 2011. Its 20 members are part of a 150,000 strong army of young people, from toddlers to teens, who are passionate about enjoying and protecting wildlife and attend Wildlife Watch groups up and down the UK. The Watch Group of the Year Award recognises and rewards this passion.

Their enthusiasm for nature, and the stewardship they show towards it, serves as an inspiration to us all. Nigel Doar, The Wildlife Trusts' Head of Development

Lings Wood made an outstanding effort to explore and discover the natural world. At a wild camping event members took part in moth trapping, bat detecting and dawn chorus walks, and rated it the highlight of the year. The young people take pride in their local wildlife, with group member Eleanor Morrison, 12, commenting on the Big Pond Dip: “I loved the day, and my favourite part was when Agatha, who was in my team, caught a newt. It really shows how well the pond is doing!”

Judges were impressed with the sense of ownership and responsibility shown by the group. Each member put a journalist hat on to contribute articles and interviews to the Watch newsletter. The group also voted to use only locally sourced, seasonal or fairtrade fruit at meetings following an education session on food miles.

Lings Wood Watch group leader, Susan Evans, said: "We are delighted to receive this award from The Wildlife Trusts in recognition of all those who make Lings Wood Wildlife Watch so much fun. The children deserve all the credit for this award as they are the real decision-makers of the group and the participants who make it a success."

Eleanor Morrison said: "I feel very proud to be part of this amazing group, and can't wait for more fun sessions!”

North Berwick Wildlife Watch group scooped second place and Best New Group. Since it was set up in 2010, the group has attracted 45 children and now has a waiting list of more keen to get involved. The members set an outstanding example to their local community, delivering an assembly to 250 schoolchildren on their work to protect Scotland’s natural environment. They also contributed to the Open Air Laboratory (OPAL) bug count, recording and identifying 260 species which they added to the online database.

Nigel Doar, Head of Development for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“We often hear of the increasing disconnection between young people and the natural world, so it’s encouraging to know there are 150,000 Wildlife Watch group members out there who love to spend time marvelling at rockpool wildlife, or creating homes for nesting birds. Their enthusiasm for nature, and the stewardship they show towards it, serves as an inspiration to us all.

“Learning and doing are the key ingredients of Wildlife Watch and the Lings Wood group is brilliant at both. Its programme of activities for 2011 was varied, fun and got them outdoors. Lings Wood members have taken the lead, shaping their own programme of activities and creating their fantastic newsletter to tell everyone all about it. We’re delighted to celebrate their dedication and pride, which will lead to a long-lasting, and rewarding, relationship with the natural environment.”

The winning group will be presented with a special trophy and £50 in gardening vouchers, with £25 going to the best new group. Runner-up receives £20 in garden vouchers, and all winners will receive a certificate.

Wildlife Watch is The Wildlife Trusts’ branch for its junior members, who receive four copies of Wildlife Watch magazine every year, a membership pack, and access to events and activities with their local Wildlife Trust. To find out more about Wildlife Watch and how to join, visit wildlifewatch.org.uk. Wildlife Watch groups are run across the UK by local Wildlife Trusts. To find your local group visit: www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/Where-you-live.

Watch Group of the Year 2011 Winners List

1st place
• Lings Wood Wildlife Watch Group (Beds, Cambs and Northants Wildlife Trust)

• North Berwick Wildlife Club (Scottish Wildlife Trust)

Joint 3rd place
• Stroud Wildlife Watch Group (Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust)
• Paxton Pits Wexwatch Group (Beds, Cambs and Northants Wildlife Trust)

Highly Commended
• Club WOW (Watch Out Wednesdays) (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust)
• Moray Wildlife Watch Group (Scottish Wildlife Trust)
• Farndon Watch Group (Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust)
• Woodthorpe Guides Wildlife Watch group (Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust)
• Nettlecombe Watch Club (Somerset Wildlife Trust)
• Mendip Wildlife Watch (Somerset Wildlife Trust)
• Swanwick Wildlife Watch Group (Hampshire & Isle Of Wight Wildlife Trust)

Best New Group

• 1st place: North Berwick Wildlife Club (Scottish Wildlife Trust)
• Runner-up: York Wildlife Watch (Yorkshire Wildlife Trust)