VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah Cooney
Sarah Cooney with her VCT Conservation Award

The recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney.

Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the Bourne Valley and this prompted Sarah to join the St Mary Bourne Flood & Emergency Group, and subsequently the Bourne Rivulet Initiative.  In addition, very much as a volunteer, Sarah started working with various stakeholders on a Natural Flood Management project. She also took a keen interest in Chalkstream catchments and the importance of working with nature. Not long after, the Watercress & Winterbournes Project was born and by early 2019 she was trained up and started kick-sampling for Riverfly Monitoring in the Bourne Rivulet. 

Having a scientific background has made learning about riverfly fairly easy for Sarah and, in her words, “standing in the middle of a chalk stream has to be one of the best workplaces in the world!”

Equally many hours of her time have passed looking down a microscope at the exquisite features of the amazing  invertebrate life that lives in chalk streams. 

All  her detailed monitoring and results are now uploaded to a National Database, contributing massively to our better understanding of the health of our rivers. She has also methodically  reported the data to local stakeholders each month and has received all sorts of interesting comments and concerns back.

Sarah is a truly worthy winner of the 2023 VCT Conservation Award.

On receiving the award, Sarah said “I was touched indeed to hear that I had won the award, and that the Watercress & Winterbournes Project as a whole had been highlighted so well by Graham at the recent Chalk Stream Headwaters Forum which I was sorry to miss.

“Riverfly monitoring has been a big part of my life now for almost 5 years; the journey has been amazing and I have learned so much along the way. It is down to the support and encouragement of the W&W Officers Kathryn Boler and Maggie Shelton, and also the expert guidance of our tutors Richard Osmond and Matt Owen-Farmer that has made it possible for me to get involved in the first place. There are many riverfly volunteers out there month on month in all weathers poring over trays and looking down microscopes – and that sense of belonging to a broader team creates a motivating and inspirational volunteering experience. I would also like to mention Cyril Bennett, whose beautiful photographs of the invertebrates that we monitor are so helpful and engaging.

“So thank you all for recognising how important the work is that we do in terms of monitoring the health of our precious chalk streams.

Thank you again – this really means a lot to me”.

Previous awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.
Mike Blackmore, Nick Lawrence, Gail Taylor, Lady Wakeham

The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat of a stretch of the river through a fishery on the River Test, which had significant deposition of fine sediment and limited submerged weed growth.

The Wild Trout Trust designed and proposed the restoration project aimed at improving conditions suitable for water crowfoot and other submerged macrophytes, marginal wetland plants and freshwater invertebrates, whilst also improving fish passage and habitat for all life-stages of wild trout and grayling.

Previous awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more

VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.
Dennis Bright

Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering for both the Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society. He is a first class self-taught photographer and his pictures of wildlife, in particular birds, can be found in many publications.

Under his own volition Dennis set up a “Barn Owl Recovery Project” focused within the Test and Itchen river catchments. With some small grants from the Environment Agency and help of friends he has successfully built and put up over 100 barn owl boxes to provide safe breeding opportunities for this rapidly declining bird. Dennis has built many long standing relationships with the respective farmers and landowners where these boxes are placed. This has been a great success in halting the decline of these enigmatic birds.

Recently, Dennis produced a wonderful book illustrating much of his work which contains many stunning images of this elusive and shy bird.

Previous awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more

VCT Conservation Award 2019

VCT Conservation Award 2019

VCT Conservation Award 2019

Angus Menzies was the proud winner of the 2019 VCT Conservation Award in recognition of his services to fresh water ecology, particularly through the  Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

Previous awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more

VCT Conservation Award 2018

VCT Conservation Award 2018

The winner of the 2018 VCT Conservation Award was naturalist Tim Sykes who works tirelessly through his role with the Environment Agency.

VCT Conservation Award 2018

In his spare time, Tim works with many other organisations and people including Wildlife Trusts and educational establishments to ensure not only our chalk streams, but the wider environment, are protected and enhanced.

Previous awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2017

VCT Conservation Award 2017

The first VCT Conservation Award was won by Aquascience in recognition of their work on the Tichborne Estate to redirect the river, creating 1km of pristine chalk stream. Aquascience carefully designed the restored channel, including profiles and gradients. They also encouraged excavator drivers to be inventive and create varied batters for a more natural finish.

VCT Conservation Award 2017

The Tichborne river restoration project, on the Cheriton Stream, was one of the most challenging and diverse of its kind ever to be conceived, designed and delivered by Aquascience.

The result was 825m of restored or revived chalk stream habitat. You can learn more about the project here.

A beautiful glass award depicting a chalk stream was presented to Jon Milliken, Managing Director of Aquascience, at the Chalk Stream Headwaters Forum in November 2017 together with a cheque for £1,000.

Further awards…

VCT Conservation Award 2023

VCT Conservation Award 2023

The VCT Conservation Award 2023 was awarded to Sarah CooneyThe recipient of the VCT award for Conservation in 2023 is Sarah Cooney. Sarah has a small stretch of the Bourne Rivulet running through her garden in Stoke.  There was a major flood event in 2014 in the...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2022

VCT Conservation Award 2022

The VCT Conservation Award 2022 was awarded to Wessex Rivers Trust & Wild Trout Trust, for their Upper River Test River Restoration Project.The Wessex Rivers Trust and Wild Trout Trust were jointly recognised for a project aimed at significantly improving habitat...

read more
VCT Conservation Award 2021

VCT Conservation Award 2021

We were delighted to award Dennis Bright the VCT Conservation Award 2021, for his work in Barn Owl Conservation.Dennis Bright has always had a real interest in birds and nearly 30 years ago, when moving to Hampshire, he followed his life-long passion by volunteering...

read more