UK National Parks Volunteer Awards Announce Inspiring Winners

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Published: 19 November 2018

The UK’s 15 National Parks are delighted to announce the winners of the National Park Volunteer Awards 2018, sponsored by Columbia Sportswear. The awards were given out on stage at the Kendal Mountain Festival and recognised the outstanding contribution that volunteers make in helping to care for National Park landscapes and inspiring others to safeguard them for future generations to experience and enjoy. Winners were presented with their Award on stage in the lively ‘basecamp’ area of the Kendal Mountain Festival, and had a chance to talk to the audience about what volunteering means to them.

There were four categories of award: individuals, young people, groups and projects. The judging panel this year was made up of the volunteer coordinators from all of the National Parks and they made the following statement:

“We’d like to congratulate the four fantastic winners and we would like to thank everyone who is volunteering to help our staff look after National Parks! Judging these awards is a humbling experience as it gives us the opportunity to learn about so many people and projects that are making an immense contribution to the 15 National Parks across the UK. It was a difficult choice this year as there were so many inspiring entries.”

Osian Wilson and Katherine Clarke from the Peak District National Park accept the Young Person's Award

Lord Gardiner, the UK Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, is keen to encourage volunteering in the National Parks and said:

“I would like to congratulate all those nominated, and commend the winners on these well-deserved awards. The dedication and hard work of volunteers is what makes our National Parks the inspiring places they are today."

“National Parks play a key role in conserving exceptional parts of our beautiful countryside and enabling communities, people and businesses to prosper and grow. Through our ongoing designated landscapes review, we want to ensure these vital areas are protected and enhanced for future generations. Volunteers of all generations do so much to make a positive difference, long may that continue.”

The awards are sponsored by Columbia Sportswear who provide clothing for staff and Rangers in all of the 15 UK National Parks. Eoin Treacy, Regional Marketing Manager at Columbia Sportswear said:

"Volunteers give their time, energy, skills and enthusiasm to help care for the UK's 15 incredible National Parks. It's this inspiring contribution that Columbia Sportswear is proud to celebrate through sponsorship of these Awards, and we'd like to congratulate this year's worthy winners.'

The National Park Volunteer Awards 2018 winners are:


Leo Hunt and Keira Macfarland (Joint nomination from Cairngorms National Park)

Their nomination says that Leo and Keira “made an outstanding contribution on July 14th in saving the life of Ken Cooper, a husband and father to a 7 year old boy who was visiting the area. Ken collapsed outside the visitor centre with a cardiac arrest. Leo and Keira had no hesitation in using the AED machine close by and performing CPR to get his heart started again. Thanks to their quick thinking, courage and calm actions Ken has made a full recovery. Both Leo and Keira deserve to be acknowledged for their work, time given and outstanding performance particularly on the 14th of July. They are nominated together because they made a superb team in a crisis and they have both inspired a lot of people to have confidence in using their first aid skills."

Kenneth Cooper with Keira Macfarland and Leo Hunt in the Cairngorms National Park

Young Person - 25 years or younger

Osian Wilson (Peak District National Park)

His nomination says: “Osian has been volunteering with the Eastern Moors Partnership for the past 2 plus years, helping to look after 14 square miles of upland habitat owned by the Peak District National Park. Osian, who is autistic, started as a Youth Ranger and now comes almost every day. During his time as a volunteer he has built drystone walls, repaired paths, pulled ragwort, cut bracken, planted trees, felled trees, litter picked and carried out ecological surveys. Osian spends at least 9 hours a week volunteering and has made himself an integral part of the Eastern Moors team, looking after the National Park for people and for wildlife.”

Groups - For a group or organisation, large or small (minimum three people)

Dartmoor National Park Junior Rangers (Dartmoor National Park)

Their nomination says: “Groups of 15 12-16yrs have for the past four years (i.e. 60 young people) completed an annual 10 month programme of conservation, exploring and discovering. Working with rangers and the education service, connecting them with the special qualities of Dartmoor, promoting messages of care, active enjoyment and wise use. Tasks include spillway repair, leaf clearing, coppicing, footpath maintenance, caring for historical sites, recreational issues as well as outreach events at local shows, meeting the public and helping with activities/events. The young people have led by example and the first group quickly recruited friends to join in subsequent years. Those who have returned have worked as mentors for the new Junior Rangers and helped to pass on lessons learnt with enthusiasm and commitment.”

Bill Allen, Dartmoor National Park Ranger, accepts the group award on behalf of the Dartmoor Junior Rangers


The Border roads project (Northumberland National Park)

Their nomination says: “The Cheviots are the major landmark of the borders, consisting of rolling summits and outlying ridges extending north and south. As well as just being ways to pass through the countryside, they have been used for activities like trading, driving livestock and moving troops – as well as smuggling and raiding. These are the Border Roads. They are the relics of connections between England and Scotland. They show how people used and negotiated the landscape for thousands of years. In just a couple of hours, if you know what to look for, you can see Bronze Age hut circles, Iron Age camps, Romano-British settlements, medieval field systems, defensive towers, nineteenth-century whisky stills and abandoned farmsteads. But all too often people are unaware of this. In 2014, with funding from the Northumberland National Park and HLF we started researching, documenting and communicating the rich set of archaeology along these old tracks. We have attracted a wide range of volunteers – some 90 at the last count – who have engaged in activities that include archival research, walking, surveying, photography, excavation, lecturing, school engagement, designing and writing.”

Individual winners will receive great prizes provided by Columbia Sportswear and a £1000 bursary is given to each of the Group and Project winners to help their volunteer work.


Media Contact: Anna Marriott on 07525 422 308 or

Images available on request