Countryside champions honoured at awards ceremony

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The work of the county’s ‘countryside heroes’ has been marked at an awards ceremony.

The Sussex Countryside Awards, held this year at Petworth House on Wednesday, October 11, celebrated a wide variety of Sussex based projects.

Kia Trainor is the director of award organisers CPRE Sussex, which is the local branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

She said: “This year’s awards were a fantastic celebration of the hugely diverse and exciting projects happening right here in Sussex to protect, conserve and improve our stunning countryside.”

Lord Egremont, CPRE Sussex president Lord Egremont said: “It is exactly the sort of thing we want to support. I have been involved in the CPRE for a long time now and it is a cause very dear to my heart.”

There were four categories on the night – Rural Enterprise, Environmental Education, Making Places Design and New Sussex Landscapes.

Full award winners in the Rural Enterprise category were Twineham Timber, Egrets Way, Southease, and The Bluebell Walk, Arlington. Egrets Way is part of the wider Ouse Valley Cycle Network and is aiming to create an accessible path from Newhaven to Lewes, creating a ‘gateway to the national park from Europe’.

Neville Harrison, chairman of the Egrets Way project, said: “It is an absolute thrill to win an award. It is a real boost to the project.”

Winners in the New Sussex Landscapes category were the recreation of the salt marsh in Rye Harbour and the Breaky Bottom restoration project, Northease.The Big Parks Project, Peacehaven; Ostlers Field, Brede; Littlehampton Rain Garden; and the Bridge Cottage, Uckfield, were winners in the Making Places Design category while The Oak Community Project, Durrington, won the Environmental Education category.

Terry Ellis, from the Littlehampton Civic Society, said it was fantastic the Rain Garden was getting recognition because it was a true community project.

He explained: “So many different people worked on it from children up to adults, from the residents to the councils, everybody. Even to the extent that when we first opened it was in July and we then had very hot weather and the firemen from the fire station opposite were watering it down daily. The people of the town have recognised it as being important. People respect it and it is proved to work.”

Other commended winners on the night were Courtlea Housing Development, Petworth; Foresters Cottage, East Dean; Weald Smokery, Flimwell; South Downs Yarn, Rustington; Saddlescombe Farm;So Sussex Schools Without Walls;Noble and Stace Chocolatiers, Easebourne; Franklins Brewey, Ringmer in partnership with the Bagelman; and Hendall Manor Barn.

The special Peter Brandon Award, in memory of the branch’s former chairman, was presented to The Bluebell Walk Arlington. Since 1972, the project has worked with 50 charities to raise almost £1m.

John McCutchan, founder, said: “So far, we have raised £966,000 for the charities we work with and we should reach £1m next year which we are very excited about.”