Skip to main content

Winners named at first West Midlands Natural Environment Awards

Published: Wednesday 22 Mar 2023

A sensory garden for veterans and an inner-city wildlife and wellbeing haven are among the winners of the first West Midlands Natural Environment Awards.

Set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the awards showcase and celebrate the community organisations, educational institutions, public sector bodies and businesses who are caring for local green spaces.

They also aim to inspire new projects and increase awareness about the importance of preserving the natural environment, as part of the WMCA’s Natural Environment Plan which sets out the actions required to protect, enhance and restore nature to mitigate the effects of climate change, from reducing the risk of flooding to directly removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Almost 100 nominees in the inaugural awards’ four categories gathered at the headquarters in Birmingham of award sponsors KPMG for the celebratory ceremony where winners were presented with their prizes by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair.

The event which was hosted by 'the Grenfell guerrilla gardener' Tayshan Hayden-Smith.

The winners are:

  • Community Award - Armed Forces Community Garden, Hillfield Park, Solihull, the Royal British Legion and Solihull Council

The Armed Forces Community Garden has helped improve the biodiversity of an old landfill site to provide veterans with a safe space to explore the garden, get involved with its maintenance and upkeep, or just sit back and contemplate. It also acts as a meeting area and helps individuals with sensory disorders to develop or reactivate their remaining senses - this is especially important because a lot of veterans suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The project also involved tri-services, residents, the neighbouring primary and junior school, and military charities.

  • Education Award - Kings Rise Academy Knowledge and Education in Nature (KRAKEN), Kingstanding

A disused area of the playground has been transformed into a wonderful wildlife and wellbeing area. Designed with the school’s eco council and Forest Schools Birmingham and named after the legendary water monster, the KRAKEN area educates users about the wonders of the environment, inspiring them to take steps to save water, protect the planet and care for the community. It includes a woodland meditation and wellbeing area, raised flower and vegetable beds for community gardening, wildflower meadow with fruit trees, forest school area, pavilion, water feature to reduce stress and anxiety, bat boxes, bird and hedgehog homes and animal feeders. As well as enhancing the environment, it is also used as an outdoor education space, and during lunchtimes and after school it is used to support those with social, emotional and behavioural needs.

  • Business Award - The Linear Park, Coventry, Idverde and Complex Development Projects

The project has created a 1km green link from Belgrade Square in Coventry city centre, under the ring road, to Naul’s Mill Park, recreating the culverted Radford Brook as the central landscape feature, with natural landscaping and the planting of 210 trees and 1,900 saplings. There are new pedestrian and cycle routes under a raised section of the ring road, which has been transformed into a new urban space with a climbing wall, performance amphitheatre, feature lighting, and landscaping. Improvements to the Edwardian Naul’s Mill Park, which opened in 1908, have been worked up in partnership with the active local friends’ group and include naturalising the former model boating lake as a wildlife haven.

  • Public Sector - Purple Horizons Nature Recovery Project, partnership between Walsall Council, Lichfield Council, Natural England, Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, and Environment Agency.

Extending across 10,000 ha on the fringes of the West Midlands conurbation, Purple Horizons Nature Recovery Project (NRP) is restoring and connecting fragmented nationally and internationally important heathlands that are vital for the recovery and long-term resilience of reptiles, birds and pollinators. It will help connect Sutton Park National Nature Reserve (NNR) and Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation (SAC), together with local nature reserves, enhance the internationally important geodiversity in the Black Country UNESCO Global Geopark, and work with local landowners to deliver habitat creation, and carbon capture and storage options for their land, supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation. In Walsall, a plan is being developed to connect with communities in the deprived areas to understand where habitat creation and green infrastructure will deliver the greatest health benefits.

Winners of the first West Midlands Natural Environment Awards with Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair.

Winners of the first West Midlands Natural Environment Awards with Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Congratulations to all the nominees and winners at our first ever Natural Environment Awards. It was great to learn about so many local success stories, present local people with their awards and extend our thanks to them - on behalf of residents right across our region - for their fantastic efforts.

“Looking after our wonderful waterways and precious green spaces enriches all of our lives. The projects we celebrated are improving health and wellbeing in local communities at the same time as contributing towards a beneficial longer-term impact on our environment.

“It’s important to give the passionate community groups, businesses, local authorities and educational institutions the recognition they rightly deserve.”

Find out more about the awards at

Contact the Media Team

WMCA Media Team
Available 7 days a week