Vote now for Herfordshire's green heroes

The National Trust's search for the UK's green heroes shines its spotlight on Hertfordshire this month – with two finalists coming from the county.

The National Trust’s search for the UK’s green heroes shines its spotlight on Hertfordshire this month – with two finalists coming from the county.

A panel of judges has selected two men from the county as finalists in the Octavia Hill Awards, named after one of the charity’s founders. They are Clive Atkins, from Sawbridgeworth, and Peter Oakenfull, from Welwyn Garden City.

Now it’s up to the public to decide who will be the first winners of these brand new awards, and people are being urged to support their local hero by voting in the online poll.

Voting is now open and closes at midnight on April 9, 2012 so people have just under three weeks to support their favourites.

The two men were chosen from over 160 nominations for these new awards, which are being run in partnership with BBC Countryfile Magazine.

The Awards are named after Octavia Hill, a Victorian social reformer and a founder of the National Trust who set the standard in campaigning for green places.

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Octavia died in 1912 and to mark the centenary these Awards celebrate the modern-day champions and guardians of our precious pieces of outdoor space.

Clive’s unrivalled passion and enthusiasm as a volunteer warden at the National Trust’s Hatfield Forest impressed the judges in the Love Places category. Peter was nominated in the Natural Hero category for his immense efforts in creating, managing and protecting the Commons Local Nature Reserve in Welwyn Garden City.

Clive was nominated by Ian Pease, National Trust Conservation Warden at Hatfield Forest, Essex. He said, ‘Clive has been a volunteer warden with us for nearly five years, during which his hard work and commitment to Hatfield Forest has never faltered. His love for Hatfield Forest is apparent every day he comes in to volunteer – on many occasions I have heard him talking to visitors and his passion and enthusiasm for the forest has shone through.

‘He has also made a huge contribution to the management of the forest, including taking on and completing important projects like the reinstatement of two stretches of original Victorian fencing. In all my 17 years here at Hatfield Forest I have never encountered such enthusiasm and love of place from a volunteer.’

Peter was nominated by Helen Browett, a fellow member of Commonswood Naturewatch. She said, ‘The Commons has always had a special place in Peter’s heart, from playing there as a child, fishing, walking its tracks and picnicking there with his own children. Peter formed Commonswood Naturewatch, the group of volunteers that still cares for the reserve in so many ways, from laying hedges, planting trees and litter-picking to fighting development proposals that threaten its wellbeing.

‘Peter is a fearless defender of the reserve and his commitment has helped create a litter-free, wildlife-rich open space on the very edge of town for the benefit of the local community.’

Clive and Peter are in prestigious company, the six awards categories include The People’s Campaigner for high profile individuals who are making a difference. The finalists in this category are Julia Bradbury, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Richard Mabey.

The winners will be announced in May, and profiled in the June issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine.

More information about Clive and Peter, all the finalists and the all-important voting buttons can be found at

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