Green Flag heroes recognised for outstanding contribution to parks

Keep Wales Tidy has revealed the winners of the 2020 Green Flag volunteer, young volunteer and employee of the year awards. The awards were an opportunity to celebrate and thank volunteers and staff who have shown outstanding commitment, looking after our parks and green spaces under the most challenging circumstances.

Paul Abraham has been named the Wales Green Flag Volunteer of the Year for his dedication to Swansea Community Farm.

Come rain or shine, Paul can be found at the Farm every Thursday. He is passionate about conservation and puts his encyclopaedic knowledge of wildlife to good use looking after the grounds – from hedgelaying and path clearing, to creating habitats and caring for the Farm’s ponds. He also uses his own experience to mentor younger volunteers and support people experiencing mental health problems.

I feel good by giving something back. It’s really nice to work with all sorts of people from all backgrounds. And if I can help someone to build up their confidence or train them in a new skill without being judgmental, I think it’s a great thing, and it makes me feel good. I’m very pleased, very humbled. I’m very pleased for the Farm as well. The Farm has helped me greatly, so to be able to give something back, and achieve for the Farm is fantastic.

Paul Abraham

The Wales Young Volunteer of the Year award was presented to 16-year-old Emily-Jayne Wilkins. Emily has been involved with Cefn Fforest Eco Park in Caerphilly for nearly eighteen months following the tragic death of one of her closest friends. Having raised money for Cole’s memorial, Emily arranged for a tree and one thousand crocuses to be planted at the Park.

Emily became a member of the Friends of Eco Park committee in early 2020. Since then, she has been a driving force in transforming Cefn Fforest, helping the park achieve Green Flag status for the first time in October. As well as building a butterfly garden with her school, Emily has kept the whole area clean and safe for the local community to enjoy during the pandemic.

I wasn't just shocked at winning but I had no idea I was entered for the award. I am very grateful to the Eco Park Committee and would like to thank them for putting my name forward.

Emily-Jayne Wilkins

Brent Bennett was named as the Wales Green Flag Employee of the Year for going above and beyond in his role as Operations and Training Manager at the award-winning National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, based at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd.

When Storm Dennis hit last February, causing devastating damage to the park and lido, Brent was one of the first people on the scene. He played a critical role in the clean-up operation and has helped restore the premier water attraction and adventure park to its former glory.

I am thrilled and humbled to receive this award in recognition of all the team’s hard work that has been carried out at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park and the National Lido of Wales, Lido Ponty, after the terrible devastation caused by Storm Dennis. I would like to extend my thanks to the Council’s area duty manager Dean Morgan-Jones, our Ranger Team, playgrounds manager Adam Kettley and his team for all the hard work that it took to get all these special places back to a sense of normality. It has been a long hard struggle, but all the fruits of our labour are finally coming to fruition.

Brent Bennett

Speaking about the awards, Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator, said:

The pandemic has shown just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. For many of us, they have been a haven on our doorstep, benefitting our health and well-being. We are only able to enjoy these fantastic sites because of the dedication of staff and volunteers like Paul, Emily and Brent. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard over the past year and congratulations to our 2020 winners.

Lucy Prisk
Green Flag Coordinator

The Green Flag Award scheme is delivered in Wales by Keep Wales Tidy with support from Welsh Government. 224 parks and green spaces received the prestigious Green Flag Award and Green Flag Community Award in 2020.

You can put your park or green space on the map by getting involved too. Visit the Green Flag Awards pages for more information.

This year’s Green Flag heroes:

  • Wales 2020 Volunteer of the Year – Paul Abraham
  • Wales 2020 Young Volunteer of the Year– Emily-Jayne Wilkins
  • Wales 2020 Employee of the Year – Brent Bennett
  • Wales 2020 Volunteer of the Year Finalists – Bryan Madden, Dean Griffiths, Teresa Shirres
  • Wales 2020 Young Volunteer of the Year Finalists – Ben Harris, Jack Harper, Sofia Parry

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