From the NT South West Blog….
“There is less than a week left to get in your nominations for the unsung local heroes of the environmental movement in the National Trust’s first ever Octavia Hill Awards. Named in honour of Trust founder, environmental campaigner and social reformer, Octavia Hill, who died in August 1912, these awards celebrate the role of people and organisations in caring for and promoting their local environment”
Read more about the Octavia Hill Awards here at the NT South West blog
North Cornwall National Trust are proud to nominate Coral.
Coral joined the National Trust’s North Cornwall team as a full time volunteer between April and October last year. She was not only an active and committed member of our ranger team but worked with local partners (in particular a local residents group, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall County Council) on a local community based project called Your Shore, which was supporting the aims of the Polzeath Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (PVMCA).
Abby Crosby, Your Shore project officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust says, “Coral became an instrumental part of the Your Shore project and a wonderful support to me and my volunteers. Without her help the busy season of events and activities could not have taken place. She directly inspired thousands of people about the significance of the marine environment and how important it is for them to do their bit to protect it. Not only did Coral prove to be incredibly capable and knowledgeable, but she was a joy to work with and loved by us all at the Polzeath VMCA and will be sorely missed!”
Polzeath is a village on the north Cornwall coast. The Polzeath VMCA was formed 17 years ago; one of the key aims being to raise awareness of the issues surrounding marine conservation.
In creating this new role we wanted to actively support the local community in Polzeath in a very tangible way. It was essential that we recruited someone who could not only bring real energy and enthusiasm to the role but who could couple this with the knowledge and skills needed to enthuse and inspire local people and visitors. The Trust looks after a long length of the surrounding coast to the north of the village and through this involvement we also wanted to forge new and better links with all those people who value this area so much.
Encouraging the local community to get involved in the work of the VMCA was a critical part of the role. Coral brought the required blend of enthusiasm, knowledge and skills that all the partners needed and ensured that the critical first year of this new role was judged a big success helping, in turn, to secure its continuation into the future.
David Short, Chairman of the Polzeath Area Residents Association (PARA) said, “PARA decided last year to support the NT and VMCA by giving a small bursary to the new appointment of a volunteer at Polzeath. Coral Smith has more than justified this community support. Her work with both the NT and VMCA has shown to the community that the synergy of her effort in local communications and joint community activities has given added awareness of our local environment, as well as enjoyment of both the marine and natural environment, to such an extent that in the future the community will have a better understanding of the work and support the activities of both the NT and VMCA here in Polzeath. We wish that Coral could stay with us to further develop the community interaction she has already created. The success of Coral’s work in our community has prompted PARA to support the next volunteer with a further bursary.”
Coral has a background in marine biology and had undertaken various research and educational roles both in the UK and abroad prior to volunteering with the Trust. She supported the VMCA by organising events, managing the volunteers, helping to run the village’s marine centre as well as promoting the important work that the group does.
Her role was designed to introduce closer and more joint working between the National Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Your Shore Project and the local community. Through the links she has forged the National Trust are delighted to now be working more closely with Keep Britain Tidy’s Beachcare programme, the local Parish Council, Polzeath Area Residents Association, Marine Rescue Groups, and the National Lobster Hatchery.
Nick Pickles, National Trust and VMCA volunteer and Polzeath beachcare coordinator said, “I’ve known Coral for just over a year and have been with her on many NT and VMCA events in and around the Polzeath area. She has a lovely personality and threw herself with enthusiastic vigour and charm in taking part in all these myriad events, oblivious to the often poor weather conditions, a real team player and unfailingly helpful person, who we would enthusiastically welcome back whenever possible.
Coral was a huge asset to the project and brought abundant enthusiasm and commitment to the role. We couldn’t have asked for someone to represent the Trust and wider partnership in a more positive way. We were sorry to lose her at the end of 2011 but we are confident that all the hard work she put in to making the project such a success last year has left strong foundations for the partnership between the local community, National Trust and all the other external organisations to continue to grow this year and beyond. Thanks in large part to the success engendered through Coral’s approach in 2011 we are currently recruiting for a new volunteer to carry on this vital work.