Fabulous five: Northumberland volunteers win award for tackling marine litter crisis
The winners of this year’s Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation are five volunteers from the Northumberland Coast Care project. Normally awarded to one outstanding volunteer, the judges felt that all five nominees were all worthy winners and the Award and its £1500 prize has been split between Amanda Crowley, Carol De Brikasaan, John Parkin, Lynne Russell and Raine Doelberg.
In just one year, the five volunteers have each donated hundreds of hours volunteering on the Northumberland Coast; cleaning beaches in all weathers, undertaking important wildlife surveys and raising awareness in their own communities. Although they come from very different backgrounds, the five winners are united by a passion for the Northumberland coastline… and a hatred of litter! Award winner Amanda Crowley, who has racked up an impressive 400 hours volunteering, says that "Volunteering with Coast Care allows me to give back to an area I love so much.” Winner Raine Doelberg, who has been cleaning her local beach for years, says: “I'm sick of picking up other people’s litter but feel compelled to do so every day for the sake of wildlife; every piece I pick up I think, ‘That's one piece less causing destruction.'"
Emily Reeves, Trust Manager at The Marsh Christian Trust says: “We would like to congratulate the Northumberland Coast Care Volunteers on winning this year’s Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation. We were impressed by this group of dedicated volunteers who have done so much to protect and restore their local coastline, whilst engaging other members of the community. They are an excellent example of how volunteers, going above and beyond for a cause that is important to them, can make a real difference to the local landscape.”
Joan Edwards, Director of Living Seas and Public Affairs at The Wildlife Trusts says: “We love hearing about the incredible dedication shown by Wildlife Trust volunteers across the UK. This year, the Coast Care volunteers were stand-out winners and we thank them all for their amazing contributions towards making the Northumberland coastline a better place for both people and wildlife.”
The Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation is made annually by The Marsh Christian Trust in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts and recognises the work of a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to marine conservation. The Award is open to all 46 Wildlife Trusts and receives inspirational nominations every year. The winner is chosen by the Founder and Chairman of The Marsh Christian Trust, Mr Brian Marsh OBE.
Meet the Winners
As a musculoskeletal physiotherapist, Amanda spends much of her working life indoors. The Coast Care project is an opportunity to get outside and Amanda volunteers as a Site Warden at Beadnell, undertaking daily beach cleans and surveys - the latter of which are vital for wider marine conservation efforts. Amanda has been involved since the beginning of the project and has done the most hours of any Coast Care volunteer (over 400 to date!). Amanda says: “Volunteering with Coast Care is inspiring me to learn more about the natural world and my prize money will help towards a Marine Biology course at Newcastle University - which the Marsh Christian Trust Award has made possible. I am so thrilled to have even been considered for this award.”
Carol De Brikasaan
Carol gave up her job in merchandising two years ago to have the time to do more voluntary work. Carol has been involved with the Coast Care project since the beginning and is a real champion for the project, recruiting and inspiring people in her local area of Berwick-upon-Tweed and setting up a small local group which do weekly beach cleans. Carol says: “It is very satisfying to hear people say that the beaches are cleaner - it makes me feel that we are really making a difference and raising awareness.”
John is semi-retired, working 2 days a week at Bamburgh Castle and doing whatever volunteering he can. He has taken on the role of Site Warden at St Aiden’s, undertaking daily beach cleans and surveys of the rocky shore. John also undertakes practical conservation tasks, including building barn owl boxes for the local area. John says: “I enjoy the volunteer work because it gives me a great feeling knowing what I/we do keep beaches in great shape for everyone.”
Lynne is a Senior Crown Prosecutor and Judge, but is currently on a two-year career break. Since watching Blue Planet II, Lynne wanted to do something to protect the environment, she says: “I had no idea how bad the plastic crisis was. I have always litter picked wherever I go. I hate litter. My 6 year old son watched Blue Planet with me and wanted to stop the wildlife being harmed.” So, as well as cleaning her own local beach on a weekly basis, Lynne has also set up her own group called Litterbugs which works with local school children to get them interested in recycling and picking up litter. Lynne also runs a monthly column in the Northumberland Gazette raising public awareness about plastic pollution.
Raine is a retired graphic designer and has been a beach cleaning champion since long before the Coast Care project began. In fact, she has been picking litter all of her life. For the past 6 years, she has been cleaning the dunes and beach at Spittal almost every day and in all weathers, recruiting others to help. For two years, she ran an anti-litter competition with over 600 local school children taking part - the trophies were even made from litter! Raine says: “I'm sick of picking up other people’s litter but feel compelled to do so every day for the sake of wildlife, pets and farm animals; every piece I pick up I think, she says: ‘That's one piece less causing destruction’.”
Find out more about the Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation and past winners here.
Find out more about the Northumberland Coast Care project here.