(Overall winners - Graham Sharp and Pauline Bradley-Sharp and from Hirst Wood Regeneration Group with judge Tony Richardson)
The Portal building at the Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust was the setting for the Biffa Award Ceremony 2016. Guests will be invited to celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who have committed to improving their local communities, or the environment.
More than 170 eligible projects were whittled down to a shortlist of just 16 across four categories: Arts and Heritage, Community Life, Sport and Play and Nature Spaces as well as an overall winner.
We started the day with a canal boat ride through Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trusts’ labyrinth of caves, on return to dry land the Award ceremony was opened with a speech by Biffa Award board member Andrew Moffat.
First up was Community Life category judged by Mavis Wilkins, and presented by Dr Mark Fishpool. The winner was Bodymoor Heath Victory Hall in Warwickshire, with Chalfont St Giles Youth Club awarded Highly Commended.
Next, the Sport and Play Category judged by Nathan Williams and presented by Tony Richardson. Highly commended went to Whitley Bay Rockcliff Rugby Football Club in Northumberland, with the Egerton Park Improvement Committee (EPIC) claiming the prize money.
The Nature Spaces category was judged and presented by Tony Richardson. The RSPB’s lapwing lifeline was awarded Highly Commended, and the winner was the Hirst Wood Regeneration Group.
Dr Mark Fishpool returned to the stage as judge and presenter of the Cultural Facilities category with the community arts centre Northern Print Ltd in Newcastle taking the prize. The heritage garden created at Green’s Windmill in Nottingham was placed as highly commended.
Biffa Group Limited’s Mick Davis presented the award for the overall winner, with Hirst Wood Regeneration Group claiming the overall prize and an addition £1000. Their project had turned an overgrown boggy field into a place of beauty and tranquillity. Funding was used to create paths, pond dipping platforms and bird hides. Community volunteers from all walks of life have given thousands of hours of work to transform the site, giving them a real sense of ownership and pride in the nature area. Fruit trees have been donated and planted in memory of loved ones, and the wood is regularly used by school groups and an art class for the less able. A well deserving winner for 2016.
Photos from the day can be found on Flickr and Facebook.