Living Coast Partners’ success at the CPRE Sussex awards

by Sarah Dobson

The Countryside Charity, CPRE Sussex has honoured the county’s countryside heroes at its first ever virtual awards ceremony, celebrating projects that enrich and support the Sussex Countryside. Three partners of The Living Coast were recognised for their work:

Phil Belden – Runner up in “Empowering Communities - The Peter Brandon Award” decided by public vote for his outstanding contribution towards conservation, biodiversity and climate change. One of Sussex’s most passionate and proactive environmentalists, for over 30 years Phil has fought tirelessly for the countryside. He was part of the original team who achieved UNESCO Biosphere status for the Living Coast and was in the thick of the campaign to get the South Downs designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area before the advent of the National Park. Over the years he has campaigned to enhance and protect numerous green spaces across the south east - most recently, threatened downland on the fringes of Eastbourne and Brighton, including two public golf courses.

Brighton & Hove Green Spaces Forum – Silver in “Connecting People & The Countryside” – bringing together more than 90 community groups who care for the city’s many parks and open spaces. The Forum empowers the groups with one voice - enabling them to mutually support one another and to share knowledge, ideas and information. In the long term, the Forum is hoping that it will gain recognition for Brighton & Hove as a role model City and has actively encouraged volunteer groups to participate in the RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ and ‘Brighton & Hove City in Bloom’ competitions.

Railway Land Wildlife Trust Outreach Environmental Education Programme - Silver in “Connecting People & The Countryside” - the Lewes-based trust developed a brand new one-off initiative which it hopes will change the way hundreds of children view their immediate environment. The Trust’s ‘Schools Outreach Project’, which ran for six months, created a series of wildlife sessions which tapped into the school curriculum to explore wildlife within the grounds of local schools.

The Secret Campsite – Silver in “Connecting People & The Countryside” – this campsite in Barcombe is putting the magic of the natural world back into camping. Its founders, Tim and Lisa Bullen have created a tranquil holiday ‘escape’ where families can connect with the natural environment and experience real camping in the wild. The site is a former garden nursery, surrounded by ancient woodland and wildlife rich habitats. There are no play areas or swings, just simple facilities and lots of nature and tranquillity

The Spithurst Hub – Silver in “Promoting Nature & The Countryside” - a co-working space which cuts out the commute and provides a sustainable working environment for dozens of local people. The Hub has been purpose built on the site of disused farm buildings near Barcombe, in East Sussex. Since it opened in 2017, it has quickly developed into a working community of more than 50 people including authors, barristers, engineers, festival organisers and gin distillers. The Hub’s co-owners grow their own food to serve in The Hub’s restaurant and have worked hard to enhance the wildlife around the site – installing a large pond and choosing bee and butterfly friendly plants for the garden.

Sussex Flow Initiative – Silver in “Promoting Nature & The Countryside” - an innovative method of flood management which works with nature to reduce flooding. The project uses nature’s own flood defences such as hedgerows, flood plains and leaky dams to slow and store the water before it reaches settlements downstream. The project works with landowners and local people to help communities find natural ways to mitigate and reduce the likelihood of flooding.

For more detail on CPRE and the awards visit

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