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Bishop Graham presents new award helping young people reconnect with nature

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The new award was created to recognise projects or organisations that have already begun work to expand opportunities for children up to the age of 16 years inclusive to connect with nature in ways that will benefit their health and wellbeing.

The award winner was given £1000 to recognise the project and to provide direct help to take the work forward.

The presentation was part of a wider day of networking and learning about the latest developments in Green Care in response to ill health and connecting to nature to promote health.  There were workshops and panels with people from Norfolk and Waveney MIND, Norwich City Council, Strong Roots and St Peter Mancroft Church.

Organiser Nigel Boldero said: Our Green Gathering is all about celebrating the power of Green Care- connecting with nature. We are highlighting some great work nationally and locally that shows the different ways connecting with nature can promote health and help manage and recover from illness. Children have been especially hard hit by the pandemic and connecting with nature is a great way of relieving stress. The First Nature campaign is focussing on increasing opportunities for youngsters to get connected with nature and it’s wonderful to have Bishop Graham’s involvement and support through this Award.”

The First Nature Award is open to voluntary groups, charitable, religious, cultural or community groups, schools, and public bodies in Norfolk and Waveney. The Green gathering took place at the Friends Meeting House in Norwich on Saturday 4 November.

Presenting the award Bishop Graham said: A joy to present The Bishop of Norwich’s First Nature Award to Paston Footprints which works to encourage children and families to experience nature and connections with Norfolk.”

Accepting the award was Dr Rob Knee (Paston Society) and Dr Sarah Hanson (UEA) who said: “We are very honoured to have won this first award which will enable us to continue to develop the project in line with the awards spirit.”


Paston Footprints – Bacton, Paston, Fleggburgh, North Walsham, Blofield, Norwich

Paston Footprints is led by a team of volunteers and aims to bring people together to experience connections with ‘Paston Country’ (aka Norfolk). The Pastons were one of Norfolk’s most prominent families in the Middle Ages and Tudor periods and their letters are the largest and earliest collection of family correspondence in the world. Their stories remain embedded in the Norfolk landscapes, and they provide unique insights into traditional connections with the natural world. The Project, whose original lottery funding has now finished, uses ‘green exercise’ on eight walking and two extended cycle trails to travel in their footprints. These entice and empower children to become involved through various activities and have included enabling a number of schools (Key stages 1-4, with a focus on 7 to 11 year olds) to be active research centres. Around 200 children in the schools have participated and over 1,700 families, plus digital downloads, indicating a steady use of all the trails and the children’s activities. Examples of activities include:

  • Paston village Trail: Ecosystems and Imaginative Dreaming, where connecting with the animals (real and imagined) is the focus.
  • Bacton Trail: Spiritual connections and meditation – this story is about pilgrimage to Bromholm Priory and involves a walk along the beach
  • Blofield: Hearing Nature. Children are enabled to learn about medieval herbal practices, using the Church herb garden.

The assessment panels loved the mix of heritage and nature connection in this Project, its impressive reach, attention to inclusivity and plans for further development.