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The Bishop of Norwich First Nature Award. Win £1,000 for putting nature first for children

A toddler running through a field with wildflowers

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Are you putting nature first for children?

If you are helping young people discover and enjoy the natural world you could win £1,000.

The Bishop of Norwich First Nature Award aims to recognise and celebrate a Norfolk project or organisation which is helping children and young people connect with the natural world.

“The wonders of the natural world are the birthright of every child,” said the Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich and the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment.

“Everyone should have the chance to connect with God’s wonderful creation and I am delighted to support this award for a project helping the youngest citizens of Norfolk connect with some of its oldest treasures – our wildlife, woodland, wetlands, wide open spaces and places for nature to thrive.

“Giving children the chance to experience the joy and solace of creation, ultimately gives them the chance to love it, understand it, care for it and become a voice for it.

“It is very much part of my role to celebrate how we find God in the natural world. In the words of the much-loved psalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.”

The Bishop’s First Nature award is run by a group of organisations which make up the First Nature Campaign, launched in Norfolk in 2022 to give young people access to and understanding of the natural world to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing and resilience and inspire them to care for the environment.

The winning project will help connect children or young people up to the age of 16 with the natural world and the award is open to voluntary, charitable, religious, cultural or community groups, and schools, working in Norfolk.

Nigel Boldero of First Nature said: “This is a great way to acknowledge the wonderful work that an increasing number of schools, community groups and other projects are doing to expand opportunities for children to connect with nature – not just to learn about it, but to appreciate its beauty, be inspired creatively and get a real lift.”

Judges will include representatives of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Norfolk Museums Service’s Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, the Broads Authority, the Bishop of Norwich and voluntary and community youth groups. Young people from Norfolk’s Youth Advisory Boards will also be part of the judging process.

The judging panel is particularly keen to hear from organisations where children have been involved in planning and delivering projects. It will also assess the number of people benefitting, potential for expansion, how obstacles to children engaging in nature are overcome and how the health and well-being of young people is helped.

Entries must be in by the end of September, with the winner announced in November.

To enter simply complete the online application form here: by midnight on September 30.

Last year’s winner

Paston Footprints won the inaugural Bishop of Norwich First Nature Award last year for the walking trails and cycle rides it created, following in the footsteps of the historic Paston family.

The Pastons were one of Norfolk’s most prominent families in medieval and Tudor times and their letters make up the world’s oldest surviving large collection of family correspondence.

They tell stories which can still be read in Norfolk landscapes. Volunteer-led Paston Footprints encourages people to find out more about the places linked to the Pastons.

Schoolchildren helped research the trails alongside experts from the Paston Society and the University of East Anglia. Judges were particularly impressed by the reach of the project and its connection to heritage and nature, as well as its attention to inclusivity and plans for further development.

The trails feature family, wellbeing, heritage and creative walks including the The Bacton Trail, with its stories of pilgrimages to once-majestic Bromholm Priory and a walk along the beach, and the Hearing Nature trail in Blofield, using the church herb garden to help children discover the importance of herbs in medieval times.