Countryside volunteer wins Green Flag Award for work improving habitats at sites near Flitwick

Green Flag winner John Buxton.
Green Flag winner John Buxton.

A volunteer dedicated to improving the countryside has won a national award.

John Buxton, 84, has been crowned Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Award Volunteer of the Year at an event held in Liverpool.

John was also a runner-up for the landmark Diamond Jubilee Award.

The Green Flag accolade recognises the very best parks and green spaces as well as the support, knowledge and dedication of volunteers who help to improve and maintain them.

John won the top prize for his enthusiastic support at Central Bedfordshire Council’s Flitwick sites Studham Common and Flitton Moor where he and other volunteers, along with partners the Greensand Trust, who have been helping to improve habitats and access.

The council’s Countryside Access Service, which works with hundreds of other volunteers across Central Bedfordshire, nominated John for the award, in recognition of his unwavering support over the years.

Nominees must have been involved in a Green Flag Award winning site, and be endorsed by the organisation for which they volunteer. Flitton Moor and Studham Common were recently recognised as some of the best community-run green spaces in the country, and awarded the National Green Flag.

John was one of 11 winners whose achievements were recognised at this year’s ceremony, in the presence of Environment Minister Dan Rogerson MP and Keep Britain Tidy’s Ambassador, TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp.

Phil Barton, chief executive at Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Congratulations to John. He is an inspirational volunteer, always willing to help, whether using his wealth of skills and experience gained over a lifetime of volunteering or keeping other volunteers looked after.”

John could not make it to Liverpool to collect his award in person due to prior commitments but said he was humbled and surprised by the support and national acknowledgement of his achievements.

He said: “It feels strange to be honoured for something that you enjoy doing. As volunteers we do what we do because we love our countryside and derive fulfilment in knowing that we are making it a better habitat for wildlife and a beautiful place for residents to enjoy.”

Countryside Access Senior Project Officer, Steve Halton, attended the event at the Lutyens Crypt adjacent to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool and collected the accolades on John’s behalf.

He said: “I have known and worked with John for many years and those who know him as well as I do will attest to his humility, commitment, energy and enthusiasm for the environment which is simply inspirational. He is a very worthy winner.”

Cllr Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Social Care Health & Housing, who is also Lead Member for Central Bedfordshire Council’s Volunteer Initiatives, said: “Congratulations to John on his award, what a fabulous story, it’s clear he enjoys volunteering and that people enjoy the results of his volunteering. We value all the effort and support we get from our volunteers as we strive to improve access to our sites.

“Our Countryside Access team do a great job of overseeing these green spaces, offering advice, tools, training and support and so on, but it is people like John who help us maintain the sites for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

For more information visit the website www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/countryside or to volunteer with Central Bedfordshire Council’s Countryside Access Service email steve.halton@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk