Members of the Hollybush Project and Leeds-based volunteer, Nigel Benson, have won Green Hero Awards as part of The Conservation Volunteers’ 2021 annual volunteer celebrations, the TCV Hero Awards. Volunteers received their awards in an online presentation during the week of 20-24th September.

The winners of these annual awards are volunteers who go above and beyond in their activities or conservation tasks, inspire others, and make a real difference in their local communities. The TCV Hero Awards are supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This year the awards also recognise the amazing work being undertaken by volunteers throughout the ongoing pandemic.

■ Nigel Benson

Col Powell, TCV Team Leader at Hollybush Conservation Centre in Kirkstall, Leeds, nominated Nigel.  Nigel came to Hollybush three years ago, looking for a new challenge after an unexpected change in employment status. Starting with participating in short courses, he soon became a regular volunteer with the midweek practical team, eventually becoming a Volunteer Officer, providing invaluable support to the project staff.

Col Powell said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, when midweek activities were suspended, Nigel refocussed his energy on making our Hollybush site more accessible and Covid-secure. He has transformed a neglected outdoor area into a gleaming green woodwork area. This once-neglected space is now used by many groups on site (children, whittlers, adults with additional needs, course participants), providing a secure and safe place to work socially distanced. Nigel now is the custodian of the space, checking it every day, whilst also continuing to support project staff now that our activities have restarted. Every TCV project needs a Nigel!”

Jayne Learoyd, TCV Project Officer at Hollybush nominated the Hollybush Project because of their heroic efforts to make a big difference around Hollybush, which was not looking its best after a long lockdown and extensive building and hard landscaping work.

Jayne Learoyd said: “Many adults with learning disabilities have been clinically vulnerable and have had limited opportunities to be out in nature since March 2020. Getting back out, rebuilding stamina, coping with social distancing measures and different routines have been very challenging. Despite this, members have shown exceptional energy and enthusiasm for being back at Hollybush after lockdown, restoring their own overgrown growing spaces and tidying and making communal areas welcoming again.”

Through the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, TCV can celebrate such fantastic volunteers like Nigel and the Hollybush Project.

To date, TCV has received over £2 million raised by players. With this money, TCV can extend their work connecting people and green spaces to benefit both the environment and the health and wellbeing of local communities, which is more important now than ever before.

Watch the winners describe the impact of volunteering with TCV here:


Hollybush Project


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