North West Awards for Coastal Excellence – the Winners!

The North West Coastal Forum is pleased to announce the winners of the 4th biennial NW ACE – an award scheme recognising outstanding achievement in and contribution to the long-term management of our coast and near-shore marine environments. The awards are independently judged and there are three award categories: Coastal Champion, Coastal Community Action and Coastal Best Practice. Coastal Best Practice has a number of sub-categories, allowing more than one project to win in this category.

The awards were presented on 12th October at The Atkinson, in Southport, as part of the North West’s biennial regional coastal conference which this year was held jointly with the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership: Sandscapes – Celebrating the Natural and Cultural Capital of Coastal Landscapes, Southport, 11th & 12th October 2016.

A presentation on the award winners is downloadable here: NW ACE 2016 Winners

More details on each winner are given below:

Coastal Champion 2016 Winner:Andy Shore, FCRM Senior Advisor (Coast), Environment Agency

This award is made recognition of a person’s significant contribution to the long term management of the North West coast. Nominations are open to anyone involved in coastal activity in North West England, either as part of their work or as a volunteer. Key criteria for people nominated are:

  • A significant contribution to coastal sustainability
  • Leadership
  • Being an inspiration to others

Andy has worked hard to develop, manage and improve the Coastal flood defences of the North West for almost 30 years. Over the last 6 years he’s led the overview of coastal flood defence in the North West, advising, encouraging and enabling the Risk Management Authorities of the North West to secure funding for schemes in excess of £228m, providing protection from flooding to more than 20,000 homes. He is seen as a leading light in the coastal practitioner community and led the organisation of the very successful 2015 Coastal Practitioner Conference in Blackpool. As well as well as all of this he has taken the time to encourage and mentor junior staff, helping them to develop as Coastal Management professionals and ensuring the future of the North West coast is in safe hands

His colleagues stated:

“Andy’s proactive attitude, legacy of delivery on the North West coast, and the esteem with which he is held by colleagues within and outside of the EA, make him truly deserving of the title of Coastal Champion”.

Coastal Community Action 2016 Winner: Morecambe Bay Partnership’s H2H Cultural Heritage Volunteers

This award is made to a community group in recognition of their significant contribution to the long term management of the North West coast. Nominations are open to any residents’ group, school or community volunteer group which has carried out work on the North West coast within the last 2 years (since April 2014). The Key Criterion for this award is a significant contribution to community benefit and the coast arising from the work carried out.

The Headlands to Headspace (H2H) Cultural Heritage Volunteers have made a notable impact to numerous sites around the Morecambe Bay area. Their passion to disseminate their experiences and encourage others to get involved in protecting the unique heritage of the Bay is inspiring.

Their commitment to the cultural heritage projects is reaping substantial benefits to heritage sites as well as personal wellbeing. New friendships have formed and networks fostered.

Once trained, the volunteers use their newfound skills to help new recruits and even go out in their own time to undertake recording and research. Through their dedication the volunteers are developing their own legacies for the H2H project work, which will hopefully result in a strong, well-trained and dedicated cultural heritage network.

Sue Hunter, of Arnside Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty said:

“The Cultural Heritage Volunteers have been working over the last two years on a wide range of activities around Morecambe Bay as part of the Morecambe Bay Partnership’s ‘Headlands to Headspace’ project and have achieved some amazing results. The extensive work done by the volunteers has widened the knowledge and understanding of the heritage of Morecambe Bay, and raised awareness and appreciation of the historic value of the Morecambe Bay coast within the local community.”

Louise Martin of Morecambe Bay Partnership said:

Much of the work the of the heritage volunteers is done outdoors, sometimes in challenging conditions, but they all continue working hard to help bring real differences to the understanding and knowledge of sites around the Bay. Together, the heritage volunteers have allowed Morecambe Bay Partnership to achieve incredible results so far, giving up their own time for the benefit of the archaeology/history, local communities and tourists. They would be worthy winners of the Coastal Community Action Award.”

Coastal Best Practice

This award is made to an organisation or groups of organisations working in partnership in recognition of their significant contribution to the long term management of the North West coast. Nominations are open to businesses, local authorities, governmental agencies and NGOs which have carried out work on the North West coast within the last 2 years (since April 2014). Key criteria are:

  • Significant benefits to coast and/or near-shore marine environments and local communities and businesses arising from the work carried out
  • Significant contribution to long-term coastal sustainability

Coastal Best Practice – Education and Skills 2016 Winner: Sefton Council’s Natural Alternatives Team for the Crosby Nature Trail

Natural Alternatives is a social inclusion project for people with learning difficulties. It is run by Sefton Council. The Natural Alternatives Team worked together to create a newly accessible nature area for members of the local community to enjoy. They ordered and cut the materials for a boardwalk and fencing, cleared invasive scrub from the site and installed the boardwalk and fence, creating a new, accessible amenity for the Crosby community and a haven for wildlife which is used as an educational resource by local schools and the Holiday Clubs which are led by Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership and supported by Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside staff. The Natural Alternatives Team hosted an official opening in summer 2016 and members continue to be involved in site management. The Crosby Nature Trail project was funded as part of the Heritage Lottery Landscape Partnership Scheme.

The nomination stated “The project has given the Natural Alternatives team new knowledge and confidence and provided the community with a new site to enjoy and learn about the natural history of the Sefton coast”.

Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum said:

“This is a particularly nice project for this category. It might be small scale but it not only provides a new education resource for the local community which is being well used but the people carrying out the project developed new skills in joinery, construction and habitat management as well as learning more generally about nature. And they continue to learn about nature and habitat management as they are involved in the ongoing site management alongside Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside Team’.

Coastal Best Practice – Coastal Leisure and Tourism 2016 Winner: Shore Cottage Studio

Shore Cottage Studio is nestled into the cliffs at Thurstaston and is a business offering visitors creative craft courses on the coast. They won a NW ACE in 2014 too but have done more since and so are a worthy winner for 2016.

They are very actively involved in promoting Wirral as a visitor destination and receive clients from all over the UK and further afield on their courses. They support local businesses, using local food and materials whenever possible and encouraging visitors to stay in local accommodation. So what have they been doing since 2014 in addition to running their courses? Well:

  • They now meet LOVEmyBEACH business accreditation and promote the LOVEmyBEACH message (LOVEmyBEACH is a campaign to improve the quality of the North West’s bathing waters)
  • They work with other organisations, e.g. Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Wirral’s Rangers – they ran a free workshop for their Seaside Fun Day in August 2015 where families dropped in to learn about water quality via play-do dog poo making. They continue to support the Soroptomists on beach cleans and beach litter surveys in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society and at the Wirral Waders Festival 2015 they provided a warm indoor space for birders and birding partners and will do so again for the 2016 event.
  • They hosted a schools event for the Big Dee Day in September 2016 and have worked with 3 schools where pupils on the autistic spectrum have attended a tailored workshop. And they do preparation for life work experience for students with specific learning difficulities – students attend for 1 day a week for 6 weeks.
  • Last but not least, Laura Heath became Vice Chair of the Wirral Coastal Partnership in late 2015 and they are very actively involved in the Wirral Tourism Business Network.

Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum said:

‘It is really great to see Shore Cottage Studio go from strength to strength as a business, whilst continuing to care deeply about their coastal environment and the local community; not only working in a sustainable way but helping to spread the message about how to look after the coast and at the same time celebrate Wirral’s fantastic coastal environment.’

Coastal Best Practice – Integrated Coastal Management 2016 Winner: Morecambe Bay Partnership

Morecambe Bay Partnership is a small coastal partnership which has made a major contribution to the Morecambe Bay area and its communities through projects bringing in over £3.5 million to the local economy. Despite austerity Morecambe Bay Partnership has managed to grow, bringing in new staff to deliver a wide range of projects benefitting the whole Bay area. Examples of what this remarkable partnership has achieved include:

  • A £2m Heritage Lottery Funded project – Headlands to Headspace (H2H) which has a number of sub-projects.
  • 2 successful Coastal Community Fund bids totalling £787,000 – the 2nd helping to deliver Destination Morecambe Bay
  • A range of smaller funding, for example restoration work on the Barrow dunes, and archaeological studies at Gleaston.
  • The Bay Cycle Way – an award winning route around the Bay, accessible to all as it includes an electric bike network, attracting many new visitors to the area. Sustrans, a partner in this project, has sold over 2000 copies of the route map and it won tourism experience of the year at the Lancashire Tourism Awards.
  • Since 2014 over 1200 people have been actively involved in the partnership’s activities through involvement in training courses and events to high quality and engaging volunteering activities. Capacity and skills in local communities have been increased and new friendships formed through the Partnership’s volunteer activities. The Cultural Heritage Volunteers won this year’s Coastal Community Action Award and the MPB’s BeachCare volunteers have been previous winners.
  • The Partnership was also a significant catalyst for the development of the new Morecambe Bay brand developed by the Destination Management Organisations for Cumbria and Lancashire; enabling the Bay to be marketed as an entity for the first time.

Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum, said:

The work and energy of the Morecambe Bay Partnership, its staff, members and volunteers is inspiring. The team is very ably led by Susannah Bleakley and the achievements of the last few years are simply staggering. I look forward to seeing what’s next!’

Coastal Best Practice – Celebrating Coastal Culture and Heritage 2016 Winner: Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership for ‘The Flock’

The Flock was a simple idea for a community art project which has spread its message to the other side of the world. 640 wooden wader templates were created by the Natural Alternatives team of Sefton Council (Natural Alternatives is a social inclusion scheme for people with learning difficulties). The birds were hand painted by members of the community at a series of workshops. People from all walks of life and all ages got involved; the youngest person participating was a toddler aged 21 months, and the oldest was 92.

The Flock was displayed on the shore at Crosby for World Wader Day 2015 to raise awareness of waders and the immense journeys they undertake and the importance of not disturbing the huge flocks resting on the shoreline during their migrations. They were also displayed on Ainsdale beach later in the year.

People were able to experience The Flock on many levels, viewing it a colourful and original art installation, or learning about the real waders on the shore with SCLP , Sefton Council’s Coast & Countryside and RSPB staff who were present with a wealth of information about the birds and telescopes to view the real thing with.

People who had painted the birds could take them home after the display and so keeping the message of wader conservation fresh in participants’ minds.

The project meant that more people across Sefton’s communities understand the importance of the coast for the birds that use it during migration periods.

Tying the initial display of The Flock to World Wader Day ensured good media coverage through media such as Twitter, with responses from Columbia and Greenland, and the idea was picked up by New Zealand environmentalists who now have their own Flock which tours schools and communities in the islands.

Caroline Salthouse, North West Coastal Forum, said:

‘A really simple idea but incredibly successful. The really nice thing about this project is the amount of community involvement and learning it created; from creating the wooden templates in the Natural Alternatives workshop to the wader sessions on the beach with the Sefton and RSPB teams. Sometimes simple is best and the testament to the value of this idea is its take up at the other side of the world.

Details of previous winners (2010, 2012 and 2014) are available here.

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