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Final call for entries into the second West Midlands Natural Environment Awards

Published: Thursday 28 Dec 2023

There is just three weeks left for community groups, businesses, educational institutions and public sector bodies to enter the 2024 West Midlands Natural Environment Awards.

Set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the second annual awards will celebrate the green projects in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton that are providing communities with new or improved access to nature - one of the key aims of the region’s Natural Environment Plan.

The awards also aim to inspire new projects and increase awareness about the importance of preserving the natural environment and the positive impact it can have on the health and wellbeing of local people.

Applications must be submitted in the four categories - Business, Community, Public Sector, and Education - by 12 noon on 15 January 2024.

The winners will be announced by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, at an event in March.

The event will be co-hosted by Beth Collier, founder of Wild in the City – a charity that inspires people to spend more time outdoors to help make nature a meaningful part of their everyday lives.

The Mayor of the West Midlands and the winners of the 2023 West Midlands Natural Environment Awards smiling at the camera holding their trophies.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the West Midlands Combined Auhority (WMCA) and broadcaster and community gardener Tayshan Hayden-Smith, with Danny Mitchell from 2023 Natural Environment Awards Business winner Idverde, and the rest of the winners.

The Mayor said: “Our Natural Environment Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the hard work local people are putting in to protect, restore and enhance the green spaces and waterways that we are blessed with here in our region.

“I wish those applying for our 2024 awards the very best of luck and look forward to celebrating the commitment and achievements of all nominees at our awards ceremony next year.”

The winners of the 2023 awards were the Armed Forces Community Garden in Solihull, the Wildlife and Wellbeing Area at Kings Rise Academy in Kingstanding, the Linear Park in Coventry, and the Purple Horizons Nature Recovery Project.

Elaine Butler, president of the Warwickshire and Birmingham County of the Royal British Legion, said: “Applying for the Natural Environment Awards was an opportunity for RBL Warwickshire and Birmingham County, in partnership with Solihull Council, to highlight the significance of creating serene spaces for our military veterans, especially those wounded or grappling with PTSD.

“Winning was not just a recognition for our efforts but a testament to the pivotal role the natural environment plays in their healing journey. It's an honour that fuels the passion of the RBL and our commitment to further nurture and grow this initiative.”

Louise Noonan, principal at Kings Rise Academy, said: “The award meant a great deal to us, recognising our commitment to creating an environmentally sustainable garden which can be used throughout the year and not just when the flowers are in bloom.”

Cllr John Cotton, WMCA portfolio lead for environment and energy, and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We all have a duty to look after where we live and protect our natural environment.

“Through these awards, the efforts of passionate community groups, businesses, local authorities and educational institutions will receive the recognition they rightly deserve - please do apply if you’ve been involved with a project that meets the criteria as your story will help to inspire others.”

The awards ceremony will be held at Barclays new Eagle Lab in Birmingham city centre.

Nick Rees, deputy customer care director in the North and West Midlands for Barclays, said: “As part of our wider group strategy to be a net zero bank by 2050, we are engaging our entire workforce around how they can play a part in promoting our sustainability ambitions as well as supporting local initiatives.

“We were excited to be able to work alongside the WMCA in hosting the West Midlands Natural Environment Awards at our new Eagle Lab in Brindley Place and will continue to partner with them in championing local businesses with a strong sustainability agenda.”

Submit an application or be inspired by the 2023 winners or find out more about WMCA grants available for environment projects on the WMCA website.

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