Environmentally-focused projects win prizes at Ripon Civic Awards
Last updated Apr 6, 2024

Projects focused on nature, the environment and carbon reduction were to the fore at last night’s Ripon Civic Awards.

Three months after Ripon Civic Society held its biennial awards in April 2022, North Yorkshire Council declared a climate emergency and planned steps that it would take, alongside stakeholders, to tackle the issue of climate change under its strategy Beyond Carbon.

Since then, incidents such as the criminal felling of the Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumbria and council-sanctioned removal of trees at other locations across the UK, have increased both public and corporate awareness of the role that the natural environment plays alongside the built environment,

Prior to last night’s awards ceremony at the Workhouse Museum in Allhallowgate, civic society co-chair Richard Taylor, told the Stray Ferret:

“There was a common green thread running through the majority of entries considered by our panel of judges for the 2024 awards.

“We saw environmental consideration at the heart of the planning and delivery of developments and projects, ranging from the construction of a single private residence to Econ Engineering’s world-first multi-function E-QCB electric gritter, invented here in Ripon.”

Econ electric gritter

ECON’s E-QCB electric gritter was highly commended at last night’s awards.

Mr Taylor and fellow civic society co-chair David Winpenny played video footage as they described each of the shortlisted entries, before the winners were announced and trophies presented by Mayor of Ripon Councillor Sid Hawke.

Justin Scully, the National Trust’s general manager at Fountain’s Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, received, on behalf of the Skell Valley Project, the sustainability award, and also the Helen Whitehead Award for best overall project.

The four-year scheme, which received £2.6 million funding to tackle climate change-related flooding issues along a 12-mile stretch of the river that runs through Ripon and the world heritage site, was launched in 2021 and has seen collaboration between 16 organisations on 15 different environmental enhancement schemes.

Mr Scully said:

“We are extremely grateful for this recognition of our work, which has been made possible through a huge volunteer input and I’m pleased to report that just five percent of the funding monies has been spent at Fountains and Studley Royal, meaning that the entire valley has benefited from this initiative.”

Justin Scully receives the Helen Whitehead Award from mayor Sid Hawke

There was also recognition for other volunteer-supported environmentally focused projects, including the work carried out by the Lower Ure Conservation Trust at Nosterfield, where former sand and gravel pits have become transformed into habitat for an abundant range of wildlife through the re-introduction of threatened native species of plants grown in a nursery on site.

Mr Winpenny said:

“This project ticks every box in terms of its aims and the detailed thought that has been put into its planning and delivery over many years,”

Simon Warwick, director of the Lower Ure Conservation Trust and project officer Emma Higgs, receive the Younge Rosebowl Enviromental Award.

The Ripon Community Link walled garden is, through its on-site and community-based activities, enabling 60 adults with mild or moderate learning disabilities to grow and reach their full potential with the support of volunteers.

Their work  was boosted last year with the opening of a new cafe and shop, which provides training opportunities and last night they received the John Whitehead Award,

The new cafe and shop at Ripon Walled Garden

The Hazzard Cup for best new building went to the owners of Maple Nook ,a custom-designed and built private residence on Heckler Lane in Ripon, which includes many eco-friendly features, while the Price Flagon for Best Building Restoration, was presented to the Westholme Road Barns on the Swinton Estate in Masham, where the use of reclaimed materials was central to bringing redundant farm buildings back to life.

The craftmanship award was received by Barrie Price on behalf of St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church on Coltsgate Hill, Ripon, where the second phase of its £500,000 restoration involved the creation of a porch extension to the south of the Grade II star listed building.

Judges were impressed by the use of stone, tiles, green oak timber and glass in sympathy with original design of the 160-year-old building, which now includes a much-needed accessible toilet for the use if parishioners and visitors,

A stone’s throw from the church is the Ripon Inn, which earned the Taylor Plate for City Centre Revitalisation.

The Inn Collection’s multi-million pound investment, which has transformed the former Spa Hotel, is welcomed by the civic society and Mr Taylor (who pointed out that the plate prize is not in his name) said:

“We now hope that the revitalisation of the Spa Quarter can soon be completed through the planned redevelopment of the nearby Spa Baths, which is in desperate need of restoration.”

The Ripon Inn

Just when it was thought that all the prizes had been presented, a new award was announced for the person who has made an outstanding contribution to Ripon Civic Society.

The inaugural winner Neill Clayton (pictured above with Mayor Sid Hawke) who will be known by many for the railway that he has created in his Dallamire’s Lane garden, which can be seen by people on scenic boat cruises along Ripon Canal.

Mr Clayton has an encyclopedic-knowledge of Ripon’s industrial history and is a long-term member of the society.

He has played an important role in providing accurate background information for heritage open days and also participates in them by allowing members of the public to see and ride on his railway.

He said:

“The industrial development of Ripon is something that we should all be proud of. It is a living thing that goes on, as we have seen tonight with ECON’s world-leading invention of an electric gritter.”

Main picture: The Mayor of Ripon Councillor Sid Hawke, with award winners and civic society co-chairs David Winpenny and Richard Taylor.