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UK award highlights Peak District National Park young volunteer’s campaign to curb countryside litter

Monday 26 November 2018

Osian with his awardA teenage volunteer in the Peak District National Park hopes to inspire other youngsters to look after the countryside, after scooping a national award.

Osian Wilson, aged 17, was named Young Volunteer of the Year at the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards ceremony, held during the Kendal Mountain Festival and sponsored by Columbia Sportswear.

His passion for protecting the natural environment inspired him to start a campaign to end littering through education in schools. Now Osian, who lives with autism spectrum disorder, hopes that publicity from the award will raise awareness of his campaign - and help end the plight of dumped waste in the Peak District.

Osian has volunteered with the Eastern Moors Partnership for over three years, firstly as a youth ranger and now as a conservation trainee.

Since leaving mainstream education two years ago, Osian has assisted with estate maintenance on the Eastern Moors on a weekly basis and is now working towards a qualification in conservation through his volunteer work. He assists the wardens with practical tasks such as litter picking and woodland management and helps with path viability surveys and wildlife surveys.

Osian said: "When I was ill and could no longer go to school, the moors saved me and now I want to save them. Getting the award means I can use it to help with my campaign. If we teach children when they are young to respect our world, they will grow up and teach their own children."

Community involvement ranger Louise Baddeley added: "Osian is an indispensable part of the Eastern Moors family. He is excellent at finding jobs that assist our team, saving us time and energy. The fact that Osian has been recognised with this award highlights his hard work and determination, and all of us at the Eastern Moors are very proud of him."

Osian was not the only Eastern Moors volunteer to be recognised in the UK National Parks Volunteer Awards. The Youth Ranger group, where he began his volunteering, was a runner up in the ‘groups’ category.

The Youth Ranger group began as part of the Heritage Lottery funded Guardians of the Moors volunteering programme in 2013. The group of 11-18 year olds carries out monthly practical conservation work to help protect the special landscape of the Eastern Moors.

Columbia Sportswear regional marketing manager Eoin Treacy 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."

Winners and nominees also received praise from Lord Gardiner, minister for rural affairs and biosecurity. He commented: "National Parks play a key role in conserving exceptional parts of our beautiful countryside and enabling communities, people and businesses to prosper and grow. Volunteers of all generations do so much to make a positive difference. Long may that continue."

Part of the Peak District National Park, the Eastern Moors lie on the fringes of Sheffield and Chesterfield. Boasting a diverse mix of heather moorland, acid grassland, blanket bog and woodland, the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Over 70 registered volunteers, ranging in age and experience, assist with tasks including ecological surveying, drystone walling and monitoring Bronze Age monuments.

For more details of Osian’s litter campaign and to sign his petition, see: https://www.facebook.com/battlingthelitter/ or https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/232897.

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