Welsh environmental campaigner wins UK award for getting Wales buzzing

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Friends of the Earth Cymru Campaigns and Development Manager Bleddyn Lake has won the annual Sheila McKechnie Foundation (SMK) ‘Outstanding Leadership’ award which seeks to recognise an individual who has provided outstanding leadership to their organisation or community in pursuit of change.

Dame Sheila McKechnie, was a Scottish trade unionist, housing campaigner and consumer activist. Following her death in 2004, the Sheila McKechnie Foundation was established to support a new generation of campaigners.

Each year, SMK celebrates the best campaigns and campaigners – whether working locally or nationally, and from individuals and community groups to people working in large organisations.

In a ceremony in London yesterday Bleddyn Lake was awarded for his ‘Outstanding Leadership’ for devising the Bee Friendly scheme in Wales.

Bleddyn started working on Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign a few years ago and quickly had success in persuading the Welsh Government to draw up a new Action Plan for Pollinators. As part of this he sits on a Pollinator Taskforce group which was set up to look at all aspects of pollinator health and welfare in Wales.

Bleddyn devised the ‘Bee Friendly’ scheme as a way to engage schools, communities, universities, councils and other public bodies in Wales in a fun way to help protect bees and other pollinators in Wales. To gain Bee Friendly status, all a group has to do is to complete a set of actions to help pollinators from 4 different categories: food, habitat, community involvement and pesticides.

Once accreditation has been granted, the organisation can officially call itself ‘Bee Friendly’ and a network of regionally based volunteer ‘Bee Champions’ has been set up around Wales to help groups get started.

This scheme is the first such national pollinator accreditation scheme of its kind anywhere and is already attracting plenty of interest with many towns, schools and universities already working towards their Bee Friendly status. Some schemes have buzzed in to action very quickly and have already secured their accreditation with Hay on Wye Primary School becoming the first Bee Friendly school in Wales and Swansea becoming the first Bee Friendly University. Conwy Council has led the way amongst Local Authorities and the race is on to become the first Bee Friendly town and city.

On receiving the award Bleddyn Lake said:

“I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of all the volunteers around Wales who are working tirelessly to help and protect bees and other pollinators. Bees do so much for us: I’m just pleased that we can give them a helping hand, and make our communities better places as well.

“It’s been brilliant to see the level of enthusiasm towards this scheme from groups all around Wales.

“If we all work together, we can make Wales the first Bee Friendly nation in the world.”

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