The New Forest National Park Authority and CLA are joining forces once again to honour rural success stories at their annual awards.
CLA South East, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses across the Forest, Hampshire and beyond, and the New Forest National Park Authority will crown the winners at an awards ceremony and drinks reception at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show on 31 July.
Nominations are now open for the seventh annual awards, which are supported by Moore Blatch and the New Forest Agricultural Show Society.
There will be a new category for 2019, the Young Environmentalist award open to those aged 25 and under, as well as returning categories Best Supporter of Local Produce, Sustainability Champion, Rural Diversification, Young Farmer/Commoner of the Year (aged 40 and under) and Land Management.
The new category is in recognition of the 70th anniversary of National Parks, which is being marked nationwide with a “Year of Green Action”, a 12-month drive to get more people from all backgrounds involved in projects to improve and reconnect with the natural world.
Individuals, businesses and organisations can nominate themselves or be nominated by others, but must be living, working or practicing within the awards scheme boundary. Nominations close on May 24, with application forms available on the New Forest National Park Authority website at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/newforestawards.
CLA South East Regional Director Robin Edwards said: "Last year’s winners emphatically highlighted the hugely important role played by farmers and other rural businesses in managing the landscape and helping our communities prosper in the New Forest and across Hampshire.
“We’re delighted that the awards are returning this year to honour even more rural success stories, and we look forward to crowning the winners at the show in July.”
New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive Alison Barnes said: “This is the seventh year we have joined forces with the CLA to run these awards, which have recognised so many special people at the heart of the living, working Forest.
“Whenever I meet the winners of these awards their passion for the Forest and securing it for future generations always shines through, in fact this dedication is crucial in securing a living, working Forest for the future.
“If you know somebody who goes above and beyond to benefit the National Park please do take the opportunity to reward them with an award nomination.”
TESTIMONIALS - some of last year's winners, in their owns words
Last year the new Land Management category was won by Milford Conservation Volunteers and Milford-on-Sea Parish Council. Working together in their village, particularly at Studland Common, the volunteers have been busy removing scrub to encourage low-growing grassland plants and working on the orchard.
Keith Metcalf, MCV conservation officer, said: “It was a surprise to be nominated and to win the CLA and NFNPA Land Management award.
“The group’s roots go back to 1989 when the Milford Environment Group (MEG) was formed following the 1987 hurricane which devastated Sharvells Copse. MEG won several awards for its restoration of the Copse.
“It amalgamated with the Wildlife Recording Group in 2012, so it was particularly rewarding for the amalgamated Milford Conservation Volunteers to win this lovely trophy in recognition of the voluntary work we have undertaken."
The 2018 Rural Diversification award was won by New Forest Shepherds' Huts. The business offers unique glamping accommodation on a 60-acre small holding, next to the Royal Oak pub in Fritham, which has been run by the McCulloch family for around 20 years.
Jenna McCulloch said: “We were thrilled and honoured to win a CLA award. We are looking forward to another busy year in 2019 following our busiest year yet.”
Gemma Wilks, who won the Sustainability Champion award for Ban the Straw New Forest, said: "It was an honour to be named Sustainability Champion in 2018. I hope it shows other people that individuals can enact change and be the trigger for positive improvements in the world around us.
"I’m certainly no expert but I had a strong belief that things weren’t right and I wanted to do something about that."