DEBI award winners

The winners of this year’s Devon Environmental Business Initiative (DEBI) awards were announced in a ceremony at the Met Office in Exeter on 20 November.

The event, hosted by the Met Office for the 11th year, was attended by the nominees for all five award categories, their supporters and guests. As well as the presentation of the awards, the 140 attendees, including Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, heard an inspiring presentation by Dr Ceri Lewis, a lecturer in marine biology at the University of Exeter, on her research into the effects of microplastics in the marine environment.

The award for Environmental Champion – co-sponsored by JP Associates and the Environment Agency – was won by Brian O’Brien, park ranger at Haven’s Devon Cliffs Holiday Park in Exmouth. A worthy champion, the judges were impressed with Brian’s enthusiasm and passion for the environment that he has passed on to hundreds of holidaymakers in his time at Devon Cliffs. He has devoted many extra hours to myriad schemes and initiatives that include environmentally-led activities for children and their parents, the creation of a ‘wilderness’ area, the formation of a Junior Green Team, the introduction of a Farmers’ Market on site, forest school, fundraising events, bird and bat box building for youngsters, story-telling in the outdoor classroom and den building. His drive and determination have clearly helped move environmental issues up the agenda for Haven Holidays: the company has asked Brian to help train a further 11 park rangers.

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The other three finalists in the Environmental Champion category – Felicity Sylvester, Brilliant Fish; Simon Friend, South Devon College; and Joyce Dignam, DWT trustee and volunteer (represented at the ceremony by Jill Portsmouth), were all presented with certificates, and a bottle of award-winning Devon bubbly courtesy of Pebblebed Vineyard.

The other four award categories and winners were:

Environmental Education: winner - St Sidwells C of E Primary School and Nursery

Green Goods and Services: winner – Twool

Sustainable Ethos: winner – Bike Bank

Sustainable Food, Retail, Hospitality and Leisure: winner – Real Food Store

Out of these four the overall 2014 DEBI Awards winner was the Real Food Store in Exeter for its community ethos and pioneering approach to selling locally produced food and drink in a city centre setting.

A full report of the event will shortly be up on the DEBI website – meantime its Facebook page has lots of great photos of what was an inspiring and fun evening.