Eco-garden competition winners announced as prize pot increases to £60,000
Seven green-thinking local schools have won a share of £60,000 in Stansted Airport's eco-garden competition.
Primary schools within ten miles of the airport were encouraged to submit designs for gardens or green spaces that improve biodiversity to compete for the cash prizes.
A prize fund of £45,000 was initially offered by the airport for the competition but due to the high quality of entries, it decided to award grants to all shortlisted schools, resulting in a total prize pot of £60,000.
The designs were assessed by a panel which included representatives of the airport’s corporate social responsibility team and the Stansted Airport Community Trust.
Various layouts were submitted, including proposals for ponds, outdoor classrooms, sensory gardens, food growing areas, and accessible green spaces.
Bishop's Stortford's Hertfordshire and Essex High School, Hockeril Anglo-European College, Richard Whittington Primary School, Thorn Grove Primary School, Windhill 21 Primary School, St Mary's C of E Primary School in Saffron Walden and Great Easton Primary School are the seven schools sharing the £60,000 prize pot.
Daniel Burford, Stansted Airport’s Community Engagement Manager, said: "We had some really fantastic ideas on our shortlist, and it was really tough to narrow it down, so we decided to award cash prizes to all of the shortlisted schools, increasing the total prize pot from £45,000 to £60,000. We are really pleased with how many entries we had, and the winners should be proud of themselves. We hope that the prize money will make a difference and allow the schools to bring their brilliant ideas to life. These ideas will not only lead to the creation of new wonderful and rich green spaces and provide children with an excellent learning experience, but it will also contribute to their mental and physical well-being and highlight how important it is to respond to today’s climate challenge. Addressing this is one of our key priorities as the airport continues its recovery from the pandemic. We are fully focused on how this can be achieved sustainably and to help accelerate our progress towards becoming a Net Zero Carbon business by 2038, and a Net Zero Carbon industry by 2050.”
Bishop’s Stortford MP Julie Marson said: "I am delighted that so many schools in Bishop’s Stortford have received this fantastic award. Congratulations to them for all their creativity and hard work. Having encouraged headteachers across Hertford and Stortford to sign-up to the eco-schools programme earlier this year, I fully support Stansted’s work to champion this brilliant initiative now. I look forward to following all future progress.”
Windhill Primary in Bishop's Stortford received the good news from councillor Graham McAndrew, executive member for environmental sustainability at East Herts Council. He said: “I would like to congratulate the Windhill 21 Primary School on winning the cash prize in the Stansted Airport Eco Garden competition. It was great meeting the pupils and teachers today and seeing their design and the proposed location of the eco-garden. It will be exciting to see their project come to life.”
Garry LeCount, Uttlesford district councillor, visited St Mary's Primary School in Saffron Walden to announce their success. He said: “It was a pleasure to be invited to St Mary’s and announce that they had been chosen as the winners – it was a lovely surprise for the children. A competition like the Eco-Garden is an excellent way for young people to learn about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging biodiversity. Congratulations to them.”
Mr Chris Jarmain, Head Teacher at St Mary’s Primary, said: “We were absolutely delighted to receive this exciting grant to create an Eco-Garden for our school, St Mary's, in Saffron Walden. This award will give our pupils the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of managing and maintaining a garden and its tools safely. It will also help the children to understand where food comes from and how to eat healthily and sustainably. This new area will boost the physical and mental wellbeing of the children as well as their resilience, allowing them to connect with nature in all weathers. Thanks to our Forest School Leader and Sports Leader, Mrs McInnes as well as our Year 6 Eco Committee for putting in all of the hard work on this incredibly important project, which will have so many benefits for our school children for years to come. A truly long-lasting legacy!”
Mr Craig Wood, Head Teacher at Richard Whittington Primary School in Bishop’s Stortford, said: "This was a great competition delivered by the Stansted Airport Community Trust, our pupils thoroughly enjoyed designing the garden and are very excited to turn their dream garden into a learning and well-being space for the whole school.”
The Stansted Airport Community Trust is funding the competition, which supports initiatives in those areas most affected by the airport's operations. The airport has announced that it will donate £1.5 million to the Trust over ten years to support local charities and community projects.