Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) is seeking nominations for their annual Environmental Awards. CEF has held its Environmental Awards ceremony since 2001 which aims to acknowledge and honour the sometimes little known actions of groups, organisations and individuals around the county that have contributed to the health or richness of the Cork environment.
Awards are nominated under the four main pillars of the Forum , Public Sector, Business and Commercial Sector , Community & Voluntary Sector and Individual Category. A Community Garden Award has been in place since 2010 and this Award is now given under 2 categories – a school garden award and a general Community Garden Award – open to community gardens, allotments and other growing initiatives.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given from time to time at the discretion of the Management Committee.
Nominations are accepted from CEF members and members of the public for actions that are in keeping with the spirit of sustainable development and community resilience, including raising awareness on environmental sustainability. The Awards have proven to be a very positive public acknowledgement of the work that groups, individuals, communities and businesses undertake every day to improve their environment and that of the wider community.
Annual Environmental Awards Nomination Form
Annual Community/ School Garden Awards Nomination Form
The CEF Environmental Awards 2015 lift the spirits of all present and inspire
The Annual Cork Environmental Forum Awards Ceremony at the Firkin Crane on 3rd December was an evening that reflected great commitment and hard work to create a better environment across all sectors of society with Awards given to Individual, Community & Voluntary, Public and Private Sector categories as well as a Communtiy Garden Award and for the first time ever in 2015 a new School Garden Category. This year the Forum also gave one of its Lifetime Achievement Awards. The Awards Ceremony promotes positivity and a can do attitude from all of the winners and recipients of the Awards.
Dr. Darren McAdam O’Connell, Chairperson of Cork Environmental Forum, in his welcoming address referred to the fact that in this 20th Anniversary year of CEF global emissions had increased at an unprecedented level and that the environmental challenges we face are daunting but tonight we celebrate people who are making a significant contribution and making a real difference by their work, actions and the leadership shown across all categories of the Awards. Bernadette Connolly, Development Coordinator and MC for the evening thanked the Selection Panel, comprised of Michael Ewing, Coordinator of the Environmental Pillar and CEF members Denis O’Regan, Helen Barrett and Ruth Fortune. They had the unenviable task of choosing the winners from nominations that were all very worthy.
Cork University Hospital Green Campus Programme was the winner under the Public Sector Category and was introduced by Helen Maher. The hospital has thus far shown great determination in being the first healthcare facility to apply for the Green Flag and successful attained this though their work in energy conservation measures, tackling waste and now engaging on further initiatives on food in conjunction with Cork Food Policy Council and transport. Edward Murphy who received the Award on behalf of CUH complimented the manner in which initially staff and now patients have responded and engaged with the programme, the initiative is both top down with great leadership from CEO Tony McNamara and Clinical Director Ken Walsh as well as from the ground up with staff across all sections engaging with actions to reduce CO2 and contribute to a truly sustainable healthcare facility. Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr. Mick Nugent, who presented the Award congratulated the CUH campus for this pioneering initiative which is providing an inspiration to other healthcare facilities to follow suit and again following the example of UCC which was the first University in the World to get a Green Flag is also a global leader through the programme.
John Ballinger introduced the winning project under the Community and Voluntary Sector which went to IRD Duhallow LIFE Himalayan Balsam eradication programme. He referred to the widespread problem of invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam and the model shown by the project in successfully tackling the issue along the River Allow. Fran Igoe in his acceptance speech referred to all of the work that had gone into the project and the wide range of stakeholders engaged in the process which involved IRD Duhallow staff but also Angling organisations, land owners, TUS and Rural Social Scheme workers as well as numerous volunteers. Deputy Mayor of the County, Cllr. Kevin Murphy, congratulated and thanked the group for their work which was a model that could be replicated across the county in acknowledging the importance of such community activism.
Declan O’Mahony, the Outstanding Individual Award Winner 2015, who was nominated by Denis O’Regan with an introduction given by Bernadette Connolly was the recipient in acknowledgment and recognition for his educational documentary River Runner. The beautifully crafted film told through the experiences and understanding of Angler, Alan Nolan and ecologist Kevin Corcoran casts insights into what was and what could potentially be a wonderful river eco-system damaged by human interventions. Declan O’Mahony said the inspiration from the film came on meeting Alan and gaining a greater knowledge and understanding of the plight of the river through the perspective of the wild atlantic salmon whilst Kevin Corcoran’s insights into the special and rare place that is the Gearagh provided another aspect to the film. Declan mentioned the campaign he has spearheaded and efforts with authorities to look at remediation to the dam system, the film shows solutions adapted in other countries to address the barriers currently preventing the salmon reaching their traditional spawning grounds. Michael Ewing, Irish Environmental Network who presented the Award refereed to us as being just one species inhabiting and sharing the same planet with so many other species and if we don’t all begin to appreciate this and act accordingly we will continue to destroy the very systems that sustain us.
The final Award under the main four categories was the Private Sector Award which went to AbbVie in Little Island. Derry O’Farrell who nominated AbbVie mentioned their longstanding commitment to sustainable practices within the business and the hard work and commitment with ISO standards but more recently and the reason for the Award two initiatives which have led to a huge reduction in energy costs, CO2 emissions and a better sustainable trajectory for the future, the installation of a locally sourced biomass wood chip boiler and HVAC cooling system. Michael McCarthy, AbbVie Project Engineer referred to the fact that as an organisation pharmaceutical production is the primary focus but that the organisation also has a strong policy to increase its sustainability and strategically works on this. Keith Neary, Brookfield on presenting the Award referred to the individual commitment of Michael McCarthy, Peter Power and colleagues for taking the initiative and pushing though these projects within the organisations which are making such a substantial contribution.
The Community Garden Award Winner for 2015 was the Cobh Community Allotments. Nominated by Helen Cadogan, who gave a heartfelt introduction to the Allotments which truly reflect a project which welcomes and embraces the wider community of Cobh. Helen is not a plot owner but regularly visits this gardening space which is a place to share gardening experience but also a great space for broader social contact with the community. Anne Mallon in her acceptance on behalf of the Allotments mentioned the ethos of the project which commenced 4 years ago but was always about being as in touch with nature as possible, whilst there are 50 plot holders there are also community shared spaces such as a poly-tunnel and facilities such as the cabin and water-harvesting and solar panels.
The IRD Duhallow Community Gardens received a commendation for their garden which initially served as a Therapeutic Outreach programme for people suffering from mental health issues. Rachel Budd explained how successful gardening can be as a therapeutic space and how the garden despite difficulties of being displaced has survived and grown now featuring a kitchen garden and orchard. Rachel emphasised the manner is which the gardens are run on a very low budget with volunteers contributing by seed saving, sharing plants and materials.
The next Award was presented to Scoil Ursula School Garden in Blackrock. The stars of the evening were Gavin and Victor who introduced their garden to a capacity filled auditorium with such wonderful poise with their own pride enjoyment and enthusiasm for the garden clearly evident. They were so inclusive with their thanks to all the staff at the school, including Rose Magner and all those involved who have helped develop the garden and make it a focal point at the school. It is clear that the garden is at the heart of the school activities and is inclusive of pupils, teaching staff, parents and the wider community.
Gill Weyman, Cork Nature Network, who kindly at short notice stepped in to present the garden Awards, mentioned the opportunity gardens give and especially with young people to learn about nature and biodiversity.
The final Award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented to Matt Murphy, Sherkin Island Marine Station for over 40 years of an amazing contribution to ecology and greater understanding of the environment around us. Michael O’Brien, Senior Engineer, Cork City Council in his introduction referred firstly to Matt’s very strong family focus and priority and following that gave a revealing and broader perspective of Matt’s endeavours as a young entrepreneur. However Matt found his true calling in life with the setting up of the Marine Station in 1975 on Sherkin, with his wife and seven children. Matt Murphy is a leader in his field and has helped so many people develop greater insight and understanding of the natural world through surveys and research and the wonderful international conferences bringing people from far and wide to share new ideas and broaden. Matt in his acceptance speech which was warm and humorous referred to the importance of long term monitoring of nature, how crucial it is to engage with children and develop understanding and knowledge at an early stage in life, of the 600 + biologists who came to Sherkin over the years and that there was a team of people including his children who had helped in the work and in their achievements. Liam Lysaght, Director National Biodiversity Data Centre who presented the Award said he was delighted to be associated with the Award to Matt Murphy whom he had worked with and respected his significant contribution made with less funding and that essentially Matt Murphy is a national treasure we are luckily enough to reside here in Cork.
Despite traffic problems in the city which played havoc with some presenters not able to attend the evening was a great success.
Bernadette Connolly, CEF Development Coordinator gave details of the prizes, all sourced form local artists, the four main categories and the School garden will receive a sculpture crafted from local stone by Peter Little of Hortisculptures and they are all unique pieces. There is also a large perpetual sculpture by Peter which Community Garden winners get to keep for a year. Martha Cashman is the creative artist responsible for the ceramic piece being presented for the Community Garden and Tess Leak is the artist of the print for the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bernadette congratulated all of the winner s and thanked all those who participated in the introductions and presentations as well as all who attended what is a highlight event in the year of the Forum. She thanked Musgraves for their sponsorship of the refreshments and the volunteers who helped prepare the reception. She also thanks Andy Ferreira for taking the photos. The Award winners give a cross sectoral flavour of the environmental care and concern in our communities across Cork and it is heartening to know that this is just a sample of all the work happening in this area. Collaboration was a common theme across all of the activities and if we can continue to work in this way we will perhaps further efforts in delivering true environmental sustainability.
Our Awards Ceremony is a public event and we welcome anyone interested in hearing more about the individuals, organisations, businesses and gardens who are contributing positively to a better environment in Cork City and County.
See details of previous Award Winners: