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Hampshire’s Choice Award public vote now open

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has announced that the Hampshire’s Choice Award Public vote in the Countryside Awards 2019 is open. All fifteen finalists across the four categories (Community and Voluntary, Young People, Making Places & Rural Enterprise) will be in with a chance of winning the Hampshire’s Choice Award top prize of £500.

To cast your vote, visit the website at: www.cprehampshire.org.uk/awards/hampshires-choice-award-2019 and select your favourite entry from the list of finalists. Only one vote per person. Voting closes on 7th September.

This year’s Community and Voluntary category is sponsored by lead sponsor Southern Co-op and includes Hampshire & IoW Wildlife Trusts’ ‘New Forest Native Plants Project’ with the aim of stopping the spread of non-native plants harmful to our countryside by out-competing our native flora involving teams of volunteers; Bishop’s Waltham North Pond Restoration Project has worked hard to revive an important environmental asset in the town; Headley Down Nature Reserve Trust have turned an old landfill site into a place that improves both community wellbeing and local biodiversity and the Watercress Way, a 26-mile circular route being developed to draw people into the countryside for recreation, and for wildlife and heritage conservation.

There were a range of entrants for the Young People category with different organisations highlighting the importance of engaging and involving children and young people with their surrounding environment. This year’s category sponsor, Forest Holidays will be judging the category, along with expert volunteers from CPRE Hampshire.

The Watercress Way

Finalists for this category include the Sustainability Centre, working with young people aged 10-19 who struggle with traditional classroom learning, and who take part in specialist outdoor conservation work; the Hampshire Youth Project is an inclusive programme for young people from diverse backgrounds and varying abilities to come together to bring a positive change to the rural landscape through activities such as litter picking, improving their own health and wellbeing in the process; Down to the Coast is a group of woodland apprentices who follow a programme of supervised environmental education and practical conservation activity.

The Making Places category, sponsored by Hastoe Group, is open to garden spaces as well as buildings. The finalists are: Hawley Community Garden, where friendships between different cultures are grown alongside vegetables; Whitchurch Silk Mill have put forward their project to repair and conserve the site and buildings of national significance as the oldest working silk mill in the UK; and National Trust Foxbury have transformed a former commercial tree plantation into a new, valuable woodland and rare lowland heath habitat.

The final category at this years’ awards is Rural Enterprise, supported by Hampshire Fare, and the group of finalists includes Hill Farm Juice, producing fresh local produce with environmental awareness; The Cold Pressed Oil Company producing oil using locally grown seed, aiding the local economy and leaving the smallest impact; Chalk Stream Foods, promoting and producing sustainable food products and the importance of sustainable aquaculture practices and good husbandry; Three Hares Honey, producing artisanal honey with the highest ethical and welfare standards, and with very active involvement in outreach, education and public engagement activities; and Stansted Farm Shop, a rural community-supported hub promoting local produce.

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