Community Champion Award 2018
We are pleased to announce this year's Community Champion Award winners. Now in its tenth year, the Community Champion recognises the spirit of individuals and community groups who work on a voluntary basis to make their community cleaner, safer and greener.
Anna’s Funky Art (individual category)
Anna has been recycling and upcycling local people's unwanted furniture for nearly three years. She takes people's unwanted items, which would otherwise either be scrapped in landfill or, worse, fly-tipped, and turns them into something useful or beautiful again.
It began as a hobby when Anna decided to renovate her kitchen on a budget by giving her old units a makeover instead of buying new ones. The result was wonderful and from then on she has been hooked on upcycling. She realised that there were probably lots of people in a similar situation who either may not be able to afford new products or simply do not want to send their items to the scrap heap.
In 2016, Anna began her enterprise Anna’s Funky Art to collect furniture, paint it, and sell it at affordable prices. Furniture is sourced either from marketplace websites, found fly-tipped by the roadside or offered directly by people who have been told about her work.
Anna said: “I've always been a keen recycler. I just don’t like throwing things away that are still useful. In our society we are constantly being bombarded with adverts telling us to buy the latest sofa, phone or car – none of which we actually need. It makes sense to give new life to old furniture and there are just so many different ways to make old things look beautiful that I have a lot of fun doing this.”
Anna now shares her skills and expertise at special workshops, which she runs from her art studio at her Hemel Hempstead home. Adults and children are encouraged to consider what they are throwing away, and think about other, creative ways to reuse their old or unwanted items.
Workshops include a regular mindfulness and creativity group, furniture upcycling, decoupage, upcycling pallets, and art and craft parties for all ages. People are encouraged to bring along something to the workshops which they already have and want to upcycle. Workshops are also run with local charities such as DENS in Hemel Hempstead and Work Aid in Chesham.
In addition, Anna hosts a stall on Hemel Old Town Sunday market to help raise awareness of the issue. For more information about Anna and her work, visit www.annasfunkyart.com.
Tring Community Garden (group category)
Tring in Transition is a grass roots organisation whose aim is to build a more sustainable town. Since May 2016, it has worked in partnership with Tring Allotments Association, Tring Town Council and Tring Together on an initiative to create a Community Garden at Duckmore Lane.
The area was once a litter-strewn, derelict site, but has since been transformed by hard-working volunteers who now provide a safe, clean garden, which is split into two main areas. The first area is for the growing of annual crops in raised vegetable beds, hosting barbecues and gatherings. The second area is being developed as a
Forest Garden - with a selection of fruit trees, bushes and smaller plants, all of which produce something edible for the community to harvest and enjoy. By increasing the variety of plants, herbs and wildflowers, a greater number of butterflies and insects have been encouraged, with birds also nesting in the perimeter hedge. Using permaculture techniques and a no-dig approach, a sustainable garden has been successfully created.
The garden is well used by the Tring community - the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers have helped develop the area and use it for their outdoor activities, while the garden has provided space for Tring Allotments Association to hold their annual show. Tring Women's Institute have also adopted one of the raised beds to provide a beautiful flower display. The garden is also wheelchair and pushchair accessible and offers small children the opportunity to enjoy playing in their specially created digging bed.
Christine Hopkins, one of the founding members of Tring Community Garden, said: “The garden is for everyone in the community to enjoy. It’s a peaceful place to sit and relax, to enjoy and share the produce - and maybe do some gardening. We hope more people will come and share the garden and participate in its continuing development.”
Volunteers, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, meet on the second Sunday of every month between 10am and 12pm. If you would like to learn more about Tring Community Garden, the work they do, or how you can volunteer, visit www.facebook.com/TringInTransition.
Kirsten Riemer (individual category)
Although Kirsten has three young children, she has been pivotal in organising monthly 'Pavement Playing Out' sessions along a section of Beaconsfield Road in Tring, as well as an annual summer street party.
Kirsten’s nominee said: “Not only are the street parties in the summer a fun event, it has enabled many neighbours to meet each other in an informal setting. I feel that Beaconsfield Road is a friendlier and more supportive location because of this.”
Kirsten said: “It takes just one person to act as a catalyst for good in our community. I was inspired by another and wanted to emulate what he was doing in his road. I'm so pleased that neighbours are seeing the local benefit, and hopefully I can inspire someone else.”
Boho Boxmoor (group category)
Boho Boxmoor is a voluntary group that has been running for more than four years and works to keep Boxmoor clean, safe and green by carrying out various activities to involve all sectors of the community.
Their work involves running a Facebook page to share local updates, a photo campaign encouraging people to love their local area, a campaign to combat dog fouling, and planting and weeding flower beds and planters. The group also hosts seasonal events, such as an Easter egg hunt and Christmas tree lights switch-on.
The group said: “We're proud to be bringing the community of Boxmoor together through local initiatives and events."
Awards presentation gallery