The purpose of the Green Hero Award is to recognise the efforts of those often unsung individuals who work tirelessly to bring people together for the purposes of improving their local environment.

Every person on this list has made a significant contribution to helping Suffolk become the Greenest County, now it’s down to the public to decide who will be crowned Green Hero 2024. Find out more about the candidates below and place your vote.


Read about this years nominees .

I would like to nominate my husband Jason for his unwavering commitment to raising awareness about littering, recycling and waste in general across Suffolk and far beyond. 500 words isn’t enough to list all the amazing things he’s achieved in the past 12 months but here’s some of the things that had the biggest impact…
Unfortunately I was diagnosed with breast cancer early in 2022 so Jason decided to do his annual 24-hour-Litterthon to raise awareness about the issue of littering but also to highlight the importance of breast screening and the amazing work done by the charity Cancer Campaign In Suffolk. During the 24 hours he walked 34 miles around the streets of Ipswich, was joined by 50+ volunteers, collected over 60 bags of litter (including over 10k cigarette butts) and raised £2,500 for CCiS.
Jason continues his work on highlighting the impact of cigarette butt litter on the environment. He has now personally picked up over 1.2 million cigarette butts off the streets of Suffolk (he’s kept 250k sealed in storage containers that he uses for presentations and workshops) and inspired countless others around the world to pick up hundreds of thousands more through his annual Blitz The Butt Campaign. He was recently invited by Keep Britain Tidy to be one of the key faces of their new national cigarette butt litter campaign spreading his message to millions.
In the past 14 months he has completed over 300 personal litter picks and beach cleans and organised/took part in over 40 public litter picking/beach clean events. Along with the help of Rubbish Walks volunteers he filled over 900 bags of litter, recycling as much as possible. He’s passionate about supporting as many groups/individuals as he can so rather than creating one big Rubbish Walks focussed group he dedicates his time to support and inspire countless smaller groups and individuals. He teamed up with Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Town FC for several litter-picking and awareness events as part of the IBC Digby campaign.
Jason loves to find new fun and interesting ways to inspire others to take action and often loves to dress up! He added two new characters to his list in the past 12 months – Morris the Dog Poo Fairy (to highlight the issue of dog poo littering) and Captain Litter (to raise awareness of littering along with his Litter Raptor costume!). These generated a huge amount of interest both locally and nationally in the media. He has continued to grow and develop his Vintage Litter Museum.
In December, he teamed up with Suffolk Libraries for his ‘Clean Places And Warm Spaces’ campaign to highlight the issue of littering but also to raise awareness about the Warm Spaces offered by Suffolk libraries. He held 12litter pick events in 12 towns across Suffolk, was joined by 40+ volunteers, collected 58 bags of litter and donated 24 books to libraries. He never stops! He never gives up! That’s why he’ll always be my Green Hero.

Debbie has founded and nurtured something special in Felixstowe: a group of like-minded individuals who take action to care for the environment. She works hard on keeping people engaged, inspiring them to make a difference together. This has led to 1,250 members of Litter-Free Felixstowe, with Debbie as its leader.

Regularly organising group litter picks ‘on the ground’, Debbie brings on board residents and visitors to be a part of the group. In November 2022, 115 people were motivated to turn up to a single litter pick despite the cold weather. Debbie has evolved the litter picks with creative ideas including a loyalty card to collect stamps for free reusable water bottles and tote bags. Children enjoy the scavenger hunt at litter picks which offer a prize at the end, and parents often report that their children have been inspired as a result. This year has seen the Easter Bunny, the Womble and Father Christmas handing out themed certificates and eco-friendly Litter-Free Felixstowe decorations. Even the family of Ukrainian refugees (who she hosted for six months in her home) were encouraged to get involved by litter-picking and joining the Carnival procession.

Debbie also educates the children of Suffolk and raises awareness of the harm litter causes to wildlife and the environment. She regularly talks to businesses, schools and relevant organisations, sharing her passion for the local area. Working with schools is particularly important as she seeks to encourage the next generation.

Already a published author, Debbie is writing two further children’s books to inspire younger people to think about how they can assist the environment and link litter-picking together with looking after the planet and considering climate change initiatives. As a regular contributor to the Town Council magazine and Spotlight magazine, Debbie is constantly raising awareness for Litter-Free Felixstowe and is actively seeking to involve Ipswich Town Football Club in the campaign. Debbie has also been asked to join the Climate Change workshop at the Town Hall and regularly speaks to BBC Suffolk and local radio as an expert on Suffolk’s sustainability.

However, Debbie is now determined to bring her success in Suffolk to a national stage. She was recently asked to be a UK ambassador at Clean Up Britain, a national charity following her work on the ‘Litter-Free Roads & Lay-bys’ campaign. Knowing that volunteers were unable to litter-pick on major roads, she decided to involve major hauliers in her quest to clean up litter. She produced the Litter-Free pledge and has met several times with local MP, Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for DEFRA. The aim is to encourage haulage firms to engage in the campaign and collaborate to reduce litter across the country. Shipping lines and ports are now onboard with the campaign thanks to her.

Not only is Debbie making a difference in Felixstowe & Suffolk, she is sharing her ideas, tenacity and ethos with a wider audience. She thoroughly deserves to win the Green Hero award this year because of her tireless workand efforts to protect the environment.

Martin Cant is the driving force behind the Wildlife Homes project for Ipswich Wildlife Group. He is the inspirational leader of a group of volunteers responsible for producing over 7,000 nest boxes in the past nine years.

Martin is a member of Ipswich Wildlife Group and initiated their ‘Wildlife Homes’ project which produces kits for making bird and mammal boxes from recycled and locally sourced timber from nearby woodlands. These kits are taken to events organised by Ipswich Borough Council Rangers and Suffolk Wildlife Trust, plus each year at the Suffolk Show, where visitors make the boxes with hammers and nails supplied. Visitors are then encouraged, to take the boxes home and put up in their gardens. Martin also takes kits to schools, scout packs and other groups to help engage young people with nature conservation.

Not only does he lead the weekly work party but he also sources wood such as pallets and fencing panels from local businesses for recycling into box kits. He also continues this sustainability by helping process new timber cut from local woodlands and sawn into planks by the Greenways Countryside Project’s mobile saw mill. All transported in Martin’s personal truck. Martin has designed and managed the construction of a series of covered racking to house the new timber enabling it to dry. He has also designed and overseen the construction of boxes for barn owls, kestrels, nuthatches, bats, dormice and hedgehogs as well as the regular blue tit, great tit and robin boxes.

Martin is tireless in his efforts for the Wildlife Homes project. When not organising the work parties or sourcing wood, he uses his garden greenhouse to help dry planks and carries on making nest box kits in his garden shed. In fact, as Christmas approaches, he makes reindeers and snowmen from offcuts and recycled timber and takes theseto seniors groups to help raise funds for the wildlife group.

All this dedication is completely voluntary, however, mainly through Martin’s efforts the Wildlife Group has received over £27,000 in donations for the various wildlife homes boxes. The money is largely used to purchase tools, materials and machinery for the Wildlife Homes project. Martin is also a regular weekly volunteer for the Greenways Countryside Project and for the Friends of Holywells Park.

Nan has the documented support of Haverhill Town Councillors for this application. I learned of Nan’s desire to make Suffolk more nature-friendly when she opened her garden for the Haverhill ‘open garden’ in Summer 2022. Nan’s substantial garden had been transformed into a pollinator and nature-friendly area, with a wildflower garden, ponds and pollinator-friendly plants. Visitors loved this very beautiful, albeit completely different, garden, and it has stimulated a lot of interest in people now wishing to change elements in their own environments.

It became evident that Nan, a scientist herself, has a great passion for the environment and in protecting and supporting nature. Nan devotes her time to educating children in the importance of pollinators and giving them ideas on how they can support this through small, easy projects. To encourage participation, Nan has written a series of children’s books – ‘Maisie, Daisy and Mo love Nature’ and to date she has published these from her own funds and donated to over 550 children through schools and outdoors centres. The books have been reviewed by world-renowned experts Prof Dave Goulson and Alison Benjamin of Urban bees. (The Echo Oct and Dec 2021). A reading event was run in Haverhill library which included activities to help children recognise specific bees. The book giveaway culminated in an interview on GenXRadiowith Tobias Bowen. (Summer 2022).

Nan also volunteers with Suzanne Stevenson from Get Suffolk Reading, where she shares her knowledge, books and her enthusiasm. Nan’s illustrations were used, and her books were prizes, for the bee trail event held in Haverhill town in the summer 2022, in which 100 children took part. (The Echo July 2022)In the summer of 2022 Nan was invited to read her book at the first Bee Festival in Marlowand this gave her the idea of attempting to get Haverhill to become a bee town. This has gained the support of Haverhill Town Council and Cllr. Joe Mason is helping to progress this via the energy and sustainability committee.

Nan’s extensive research showed that the common use of the weedkiller, Glysophate, had a damaging effect on pollinators and she began a campaign to have this chemical banned by local authorities. With the support of local Councillors, the motion went to WestSuffolk Council and was successful in stopping the use of this, and any other chemicals, other than in very specific and isolated cases. (The Echo Dec 2022) Nan has also encouraged West Suffolk Council to reconsider the way in which it manages the environment, with a greater emphasis on bio-diversity –reducing the number of grass-cutting events and leaving swathes of land un-cut to encourage the growth and sustainability of wildflowers.

It is rare to meet someone with the knowledge, desire and enthusiasm, who gives their time freely for no other reason than to educate and encourage change to improve the environment for us and for future generations. She is certainly a lady on a mission.

Steph has been renting land from the church in Bradfield St George for several years and we have got to know and admire what she is doing with West Suffolk Hive.

She set up Nature Explorers about ten years ago to promote nature connection and early years outdoor education. She trained as a forest school practitioner in 2018 and set up forest school sessions at West Stow for two years before creating The Hive.

She is the founder and the creator of the Hive, which was a culmination of the three not-for-profit organisations she had been running, St Edmundsbaby, Nature Explorers and West Suffolk HomeEd Hub. She realised that all three had similar values and an emphasis on outdoor education and that she would have more impact as a properly incorporated organisation and with a team of people around her.

Up until 2019, she ran all her organisations on her own. Now she runs the Hive with her fellow director, Claire, who is the fundraising lead and is an experienced youth worker. The Hive has been involved in a wide variety of environmental events – she hosted the Green Fair in 2020where we had a successful Fairtrade stall. She set up the Eco Forum and created the Eco Directory as a platform for local charities and organisations who were also trying to improve sustainability in and around Bury St Edmunds. She has been on the local residents’ Air Quality Forum since 2020 and has been very active in banning the use of glyphosates. She started working with the River Lark Catchment Partnership in 2020, where she coordinates volunteers who are restoring the river Lark, and manages the Citizen Science team, monitoring the quality of the water.

In 2021 she helped arrange a churchyard bug and flower count for local families which was a success and which we hope to repeat this year in the summer. In 2022, she hosted the BioBlitz with Bury Water Meadows group, working with three local schools and providing them with educational workshops. She teamed up with Bury Rickshaw to test a prototype Bicycle Bus to improve air quality around local schools. She was invited to two career fairs at the end of 2022 to speak to students about environmental careers.

Last year, she stood as a candidate for the Green Party for the county council elections, and came a very close runner-Up. During the campaign, she spoke to hundreds of residents about their concerns about the environment and instigated several litter picks around Bury St Edmunds.

In May 2022, West Suffolk Council approached her to work with them to run bi-monthly Eco Markets in the town centre. We have now held four of these markets, which have proved to be very successful. During lockdown in 2020, Steph hosted an online Eco Festival, with around 100 participants and about six guest speakers delivering talks and discussions about the climate crisis.

Eamonn O’Nolan has initiated and carried out the testing for E.Coli in the river Deben, without which we would have not had the publicity and public awareness to start our river campaign. He has started the Woodbridge Climate Action Centre which is growing from strength to strength. He has also organised and run two Climate Action meetings in 2023 already and he is mentoring the Youth Climate Action Group in Woodbridge

Milly Sandoval is a true catalyst in the community. Milly started off by taking Tetrapaks from her home to the Foxhall Road Council-run waste recycling site. She later coordinated with the Council to pick up these Tetrapaks from the Holbrook Repair Cafe.

Milly is a local parent living in the Shotley peninsular area in Suffolk who leads and motivates a growing group of local people to learn, give tips and ask for advice to help everyone to minimise their impact on the planet. Milly started off by taking Tetrapaks (Terracyclecan re-use these items) from her home to the Foxhall Road Council-run waste recycling site. Then lockdown happened and Milly used the group Facebook social media page “Rethink, Reuse, Repurpose, Repair, Rewild, Recycle” to talk to people in the Suffolk community about considering and making greener changes in their lifestyles. Many followers started to develop and the trend to change lifestyles gained momentum. Requests for help came in from Holbrook and Milly started collecting recyclables from residents to take to the SCC Recycling site.

In June 2021 the HOLBROOK Repair Café became the point to leave recyclables and Milly would co-ordinate this action as part of the Terracycle Recycling scheme. A total of 345kg of rubbish has been collected to date, including crisps, cookies, cheese packets as well as coffee packs and other stuff collected by this company.

The evidence of the local community wanting to contribute towards a greener way of doing things was emerging. The children have been involved in nature learning with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust organised in partnership with Milly’s group. The young are being encouraged to re-use domestic items such as jam jars, egg boxes, bubble wrap, boxes and plastic bottles, all for other purposes. Creating awareness of reducing bought things and using alternatives. Milly has created donations to charities by having a drop-off point for Helping Hands Suffolk. Visitors drop off books, CDs, DVDs, clean re-useable clothing. Events organised by Milly and her supporters have provided stalls to sell repurposed items with FREE stalls for charities such as UKRAINIAN & AFGHANISTAN refugees (DEC Appeal). Zero Waste has been created at community events by using Bokashi Bins to put tea dregs, coffee waste and crumbs in. A thoughtful way to biodegrade. Milly has a scheme going for refilling bottles or containers with domestic products sourced from a wholesaler. The public can go to her events to buy refills or try green products.

A Toy Swap scheme was used at an event by a volunteer motivated by Milly. This event was very popular, and many learned the value of re-use and share. A person skilled in composting has joined Milly’s amazing green team to offer teaching for 7 months, giving advice and demonstrations to the public. Passing on ideas and techniques to promote green learning for the local people. Being able to use enriched soil to grow flowers, vegetables or small shrubs is crucial to partner the act of feeding and pollination for insects, especially bees. To produce home compost is key. This is how Milly uses education to enable others. Fabric has been saved from going to the waste site. Local people are making new items such as handbags etc. to sell for charity funds.

Example of charities supported are: Holbrook and Stutton First Responders and Gambia. Fabric is shared around the community for crafters to use.

Growing up on a family farm, Lucy’s love of nature and wildlife has always been an inherent part of her. A significant turning point was when Lucy retrained in floristry after years teaching as a tennis coach. Working in an upmarket central London florist once a month she realised she had some serious issues with this fundamentally unsustainable industry – cut flowers air freighted or delivered by huge trucks over long distances where they had been intensively farmed, chemicals and pesticides used (less regulated in parts of the world), and tonnes of plastic used to create bouquets that eventually end up in landfill.

With a strong resolve for more natural processes, Lucy went on to grow her own seasonal flowers on a corner of her family’s meadows in Broome, chemical-free and locally sold. With a strong emotional, almost magical connection with the meadows – it’s Lucy’s favourite place in the world and she loves sharing its natural raw beauty with friends and family. Many years ago Lucy made a conscious decision that no herbicides or pesticides would be used anywhere on the land and, wherever possible, she would allow the site to return to nature with only a helping hand if required. The site is now a registered private nature reserve with Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

During the first COVID lockdown the family built a footbridge across the beck that runs through the meadows, giving access to the whole site all year. Inadvertently, in protecting a flower crop, Lucy created a perfect example of natural regeneration (rewilding) which is now a rich biodiverse area full of wildlife. Professional (often retired) wildlife and sustainable land management experts have been engaged for their advice and experience to record the considerable impact and benefits of returning the meadows to nature. These surveys measure whether species are thriving, recovering or sadly in decline. However, the first year’s findings are encouraging with species of – 41 wild birds, 12 wildflowers, 11 mammals, 92 invertebrates, 6 different bee and 14 butterfly varieties. Eager to learn, Lucy attends many Wild Learning courses (Suffolk Wildlife Trust), is an avid reader of the natural environment and listens regularly to relevant podcasts. Her achievements in such a short time are testament to her instinct for conservation which is already reaping considerable benefits. It is roughly calculated the conservation area sequesters just over 71 tonnes of carbon annually.

The meadow has hosted sustainable events giving Lucy the opportunity to use her natural ability to teach, to share her knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to explain the conservation project – an opportunity to give her vision for the natural landscape more focus. She spreads the word through an active social media presence and two websites. Lucy’s passion and enthusiasm for conservation and the environment is inspiring and captivating; whether successful or not with this award, she is already a Green Hero too many.

David thoroughly deserves the Green Hero Award as he has done so much for the environment, sustainability, wildlife diversity and the wellbeing of people. David runs Ringsfield Hall Eco Activity Centre with genuine green credentials.

Green waste is upcycled into useful things, for instance bird feeders are made from the smaller pieces of willow tree that are trimmed down. Larger pieces are being turned into fencing around the estate. There are newly developed hedge corridors that are now inhabited by birds and rabbits. Woodland is being regenerated and 400 tree saplings are being planted soon as carbon capture vehicles. Habitats have been increased and staff have recently seen a white barn owl on the site. One hadn’t been seen for a period of 4 years. Greenery is placed on a compost heap to make a home for slow worms and snakes. A wormery is also being built. Meadowland is allowed to grow naturally providing an attractive space for butterflies and bees, and eventually seeds for birds.

Humans also benefit from the centre and staff place the wellbeing of children who visit above other considerations. Young people from inner cities are sometimes introduced to the countryside for the first time in their lives and they are taught about mindfulness, sustainability, the environment and wildlife.

The John Muir Award is also taught which encourages a connection with and a genuine care for the natural world. Raised vegetable boxes are being updated currently and Ringsfield will grow more food to provide for those on residential. There are two orchard areas and safe foraging is taught and encouraged.

David has worked with EastCoast College staff and is providing voluntary opportunities for SEN students who are interested in gardening.

For over a year, Helen and her partner Kevin have been going to the Laxfield Co-op at the end of every day, to collect food which would otherwise be thrown into landfill. They have been wheeling it away in wheelbarrows, sorting it into manageable packs, labelling it for allergens and then making the food available in a purpose-built food shelter they built at the edge of their property.
Thanks to Helen’s initiative and determination, every day for over a year, local people have been able to benefit from collecting free food from the shelter. This is several hundred wheelbarrows of unsold food that Helen has single-handedly redistributed and prevented from going to waste. This has not only massively reduced food waste but has served a great need in the village, especially as the cost of living has risen. Having myself attended a talk by Waveney Food Bank, there are now over 1,300 people in Laxfield and two surrounding villages who cannot afford to feed their families. Helen has therefore provided a lifeline by doing what she does and has done so for well over a year by herself and asks for nothing back.
Helen and her partner took into their home, two Ukranian refugees earlier in the year, and those two guests have also been involved in making this home grown ‘Foodshare’ initiative work in the village. Helen is a former primary school headteacher who now works as a gardener/landscaper with her partner Kevin. Helen is a true Green Hero and deserves this recognition although has no idea about this nomination.