On 21st February 2022, High Sheriff Imam Monawar Hussain MBE presented the awards to individuals, businesses and grassroots community organisations that are playing a key local role in tackling the climate crisis.
The initiatives recognised at the awards range from ambitious local plans to make whole towns carbon neutral, to educational resources for children, to promoting better reuse and recycling of materials within university and hospital labs. The awardees reflect the diverse nature of the county, with rural community gardening, rewilding and tree planting projects sitting alongside urban community hubs where local residents can access community larders and repair cafes. In all cases local people from within Oxfordshire’s communities are stepping up and bringing their neighbours together to tackle climate change, whether by car sharing, reducing waste or protecting local wildlife.
One award went to The Earth Trust, an environmental learning charity with 40 years’ experience in caring for and inspiring others with green spaces. OCF has supported this charity with over £18,000 in grants over the past two years for their work using nature to promote better mental health. The award recognised the Trust’s River of Life project, which transforms a total of 46,000m2 of wetland in three locations along the River Thames and Thame. It is the first project of its kind to research the carbon potential of floodplain wetlands and demonstrate how farming and wildlife can thrive hand in hand and be financially sustainable in future.
Monawar said: “The office of the High Sheriff has been in existence for over a thousand years, second oldest to the monarchy. It’s a huge privilege and honour to serve as High Sheriff of one of the most vibrant, creative and dynamic counties in our country.
“The climate emergency is the single biggest issue facing humanity. Taking my theme of celebrating Oxfordshire’s heroes, I felt that it was appropriate to celebrate as many individuals, community groups and businesses as possible, who are passionate about climate action and who have made a demonstrable contribution to their local communities. I hope that by doing so, not only is this an opportunity to celebrate and recognise outstanding contributions to climate action in the county, but this will also act as a catalyst and an inspiration for further climate action initiatives locally.”
OCF’s Chief Executive Adrian Sell was a member of the judging panel for the awards. He said: “It is really inspiring to read about the huge variety of projects happening across Oxfordshire – all of which give hope as we come out of the pandemic. They really demonstrate how Oxfordshire’s communities are taking the lead in building something better as part of their COVID recovery.”
To see the full list of awardees, please download the event programme.