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2017 Rural Living Awards Presented

Tuesday, 24 October 2017 10:04

2017 Rural Living Awards, Environment Award to Thrift Cottage presented by Kevin Fitzgerald and Dorothy Abel Smith MBE 2017 Rural Living Awards, Environment Award to Thrift Cottage presented by Kevin Fitzgerald and Dorothy Abel Smith MBE Paul Munns


 CPRE Hertfordshire's Rural Living Champions have been recognised at an Awards Evening in County Hall

The Rural Living Awards scheme aims to highlight efforts made by groups or individuals to improve life and enhance the environment in Hertfordshire.

The Peterkin Award

Awarded to Ken Newstead for his work in the village of Meesden, near Buntingford.  Among his achievements was to persuade BT to allow the village to adopt the redundant phone box into which a defibrillator was later installed. He is also a parish council clerk, a member of the village hall committee, churchwarden and school governor. Ken stated “supporting the community is a reward in itself and I strongly encourage others to be active in their local community”.

Judges also considered entries from Nicholas Pellett from Crouch Green near Codicote, a passionate defender of the countryside ; Gary O’Leary of Birch Green, Hertford who founded the Friends of Panshanger Park and organises events to promote access and protect the Green Belt and Jonathan Forgham from Little Hadham who brings his community together through organisation of working parties for adults and children to the Millennium Wood.

The Rural Business in the Community Award

Awarded to Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery which is run and maintained by volunteers and boasts the lowest number of food miles possible in producing a range of stoneground, organic flours from local grown grains.

The Community Award

Awarded to Cottered Voices which was founded in 2013 by four members whose passion for singing started in village living rooms and has now blossomed into an amazing choir that has contributed to celebrations such as VE Day and the Queen’s 90th birthday.  It stays self sufficient by using the many skills within the group and can be described as a flourishing dynamic group of committed people who make a massive contribution to the wellbeing of Cottered. “It is great to see individuals and groups receiving recognition for their work and contribution to the community” – Cllr Jeff Jones, Chairman EHDC


Friends of Bunkers Park, Nash Mills, Hemel Hempstead, who have continually strived to protect around 50 hectares of wonderful parkland that now has Green Flag status.

Redbourn village Hall where the judges were impressed by the work of the ongoing management to restore the building and keep it open for many local activities.

The Friends of Danesbury Local Nature Reserve in Welwyn, for the on-going project of restoring the Fernery, once described as the best fernery in the Home Counties and for encouraging interest and support from outside the group.

Cllr Lynne Sparks, Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said “I’m continually blown away with the work volunteers do around the borough and the county.”

Other entries that were considered were the Stop Bengeo Quarry Campaign in Hertford; the Redbourn Community Library; Redbourn Fun Run; Good Gardeners International at Well End and the Walsworth Festival, Hitchin.

The Environment Award

Awarded to Thrift Cottage Eco House and Smallholding in Burnham Green near Welwyn. The project has turned a two acre site that was once an agriculture monoculture into a haven for wildlife, incorporating a wildflower meadow.


Croxley Green Parish Council Bird Box Trail which encourages people to look for the bird boxes and indentify the trees they are fixed to and observe the birds using them.

Bringing Back the Bulbourne, a project about restoring the River Bulbourne near Hemel Hempstead from a degraded, silty river to a beautiful meandering chalk stream.

Other projects  considered were the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust River Stort Training Programme; The Hertfordshire Natural History Society for their comprehensive book on

butterflies in the county; Groundswell Agriculture Ltd and Redbourn in Bloom Horticultural Society.  


Children’s Art Competition

This is a long standing and well loved part of the CPRE Hertfordshire calendar and this year’s theme was Hertfordshire’s Hedgerows and Hedges.  All children received certificates for their work which was judged by CPRE member and artist Valerie Cansick who has a studio at Halls Green.

We received over 200 entries for the competition this year, making the judge’s decisions difficult.   As in previous years, the standard was very high and art teachers should take credit for enabling children to produce such creative pieces of work.

The competition encourages children to think about the countryside they live in and, as one parent said on the night, “it was a very interesting topic this year which encouraged the children to really think about hedgerows and hedges and what they do for the environment.  We all enjoyed the project very much”..

We love including the children and their families in the presentation evening and they all enjoy coming to County Hall to receive their certificates and vouchers.

The overall winning school was Colney Heath School,  their headmaster, Mr P Rose, said he sets the art competition as the children’s Easter homework each year and he thinks “the idea behind the competition is a great way for children to look at the environment and what is around them”


Read the judges' full reports on nominations and award recipients

See our photos of all the presentations below:

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