Fellowships recognise UK environmental innovators

Bex Lynam, a Marine Advocacy Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, will travel to Canada and the US, and use her findings to improve awareness and understanding of marine mammals in UK waters.

Ten individuals in the UK have been awarded “Churchill Fellowships”, which offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel the world and research new ideas for addressing issues related to the environment, conservation and sustainable living. The awards were announced on 7 March.

Their issues range from community-led energy infrastructure to reducing pollution near schools, from wildcat extinction, to the manufacture and transport of building goods. They will use their findings from overseas to inspire positive change in the UK upon their return.

The Fellowships have been awarded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT). The Frank Jackson Foundation are jointly funding two Fellowships that promote environmental education and public awareness of environmental issues.

Julia Weston, Chief Executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said:

“Churchill Fellows are inspiring individuals who will scour the world for fresh approaches to the urgent environmental issues we face. It’s a unique chance to make change happen, and every UK citizen over the age of 18 can apply. The next round of applications will open on 16 May 2019.”

David Tennant, Chair of trustees at The Frank Jackson Foundation, said:

“We are once again proud to be supporting these Churchill Fellows for the Environment. We wish them well on their travels and look forward to reading their research on their return.”

The award winners and their projects include:

Tackling air pollution through promoting low-polluting modes of transport: Emma Hookham, a charity worker from London, will travel to Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands. To reduce her own carbon footprint, she will be making this 2,000-mile journey by bicycle. She will share her findings with schools and environmental groups in the UK. Emma’s Fellowship is supported by The Frank Jackson Foundation.

Emma said: “As in many other major cities, the air quality in London is extremely poor, resulting in thousands of premature deaths per year. I’m always looking for new and inspirational ways to help raise awareness of this invisible issue. Far more needs to be done to tackle this public health crisis – and I want to help inspire action.”

Approaches to involving members of the public in conservation projects: Bex Lynam, from York, and Marine Advocacy Officer for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, will travel to Canada and the USA. She will use her findings to improve awareness and understanding of marine mammals in UK waters.

Bex said: “Helping people to better connect with and understand our marine wildlife is vital to protecting it. By involving people in the scientific research of whales and dolphins, we not only learn more about these animals but create passionate advocates of people. I’m so excited to undertake this Fellowship to learn how to better connect the general public with our marine wildlife which is so often out of sight out of mind.”

The health benefits of spending time in forests: Jonathan Reeves, a conservationist from Bristol, will travel to Japan and South Korea. He will use his findings to advocate for nature-based health interventions in the UK.

Jonathan said: “In the UK, the idea that having more nature around us can keep us healthier is gaining traction; not just within conservation, but also from a government and business perspective. However, questions remain regarding how to harness and deliver nature for health, how to demonstrate the benefits, and how to bring together all the sectors involved. In that respect Japan and South Korea are ahead of us, as they’ve been ‘formally’ forest bathing since the 80s. I’m hoping to learn from their experience and bring some of this knowledge back to the UK.”

Together, the 10 award winners will receive grants totalling over £74,000 and travel to 21 countries across four continents. They are among 150 people who were selected this year from almost 1,800 applicants. The average length of a Fellowship is six weeks.

The next chance to apply opens on 16 May 2019. This year, applications are again invited in a special category dedicated to the environment, conservation and sustainable living. Application details are online at wcmt.org.uk.