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(Photo- left to right: Annabel Carter (Cirencester College), Deb Govier (Royal Agricultural University), Rebecca Elton (Royal Agricultural University), Lord Bathurst (sponsor of the Environmental Project of the Year award. Photography by Kay Ransom Photography)

A project working to create improved wildlife habitats across the Cirencester education quarter has won the Environmental Project of the Year award at this year’s Cirencester Business and Community Awards.

Wild Campus, a partnership between the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) and Cirencester College, was established in 2020 with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and has been working to connect wildlife populations, benefiting protected species and investing in the community, environment, wellbeing, and prosperity.

Receiving the award in a ceremony at the Church of St John the Baptist in Cirencester Market Place on Friday, Wild Campus Project Manager Deb Govier said: “We are so delighted to have won this award for the work of Wild Campus.

“Since we started the project two years ago, we have created lots of new habitats, including ponds and wildflower meadows, as well as sward diversifying areas (allowing areas of grass to grown long and only cutting once a year) at both the RAU and Cirencester College and planting a wide variety of hardy shrubs and a native orchard.

“It has been fantastic to work with both educational establishments to enhance the biodiversity of the area in which we all live and work and we have all really enjoyed seeing the changes in both campuses including spotting new wildlife species and the colours from the seeds and shrubs we have planted.

“Over the last few months we have also been visiting local schools to teach them about biodiversity and the changes they can make in their own gardens to help all of our local wildlife as well as talking to them about hedgehogs and how to rescue them.”

The awards, organised by Cirencester Town Council and the town’s Chamber of Commerce, recognised the outstanding effort and hard work of local businesses and community organisations over the last year.

Wild Campus directly involves students and staff from both the RAU and Cirencester College in the rewilding of the campuses. The project involves hands-on conservation work such as lawn diversification and ‘no-mow’ areas, pond restoration, and woodland and hedgerow management, and students are also involved in a voluntary conservation club to gain direct experience in conservation practice.

Deb concluded: “The team and I have really enjoyed making such a positive impact across the two campuses and it is such an honour to have our efforts recognised in this way.

“As well as the hard work of the students from both institutions, it has also been wonderful to have so much support from local businesses and experts, including the RAU’s Dr Kelly Hemmings and Dr Ian Grange, without whose knowledge and expertise this project would not be possible.”

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