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Moray & Banffshire Heroes 2024: Green hero shortlist revealed!

By Leah Williamson

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Here is your shortlist for the green hero award. Voting closes on Sunday, March 24.

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Judith Binney

Judith Binney.
Judith Binney.

A desire to cut carbon emissions, improve health and keep children safe as they cycle or walk to school in Forres instead of being driven has grown into a successful initiative that is bringing real change to the town.

Founder of Active Travel Forres (ATF) Judith Binney first came up with the idea a few years ago to help create a network of interlinked, traffic-free passages, including safe routes for wheelchair users, cyclists, walkers and those with buggies and pushchairs.

“I wanted children to be safe and not come to school in cars all the time so I was looking how they could get to school safely,” explained Judith.

“I noticed when I was cycling with young children you couldn't get round Forres on a bike ‒ cycling tracks started and then just stopped! Very few children could cycle to school safely ‒ and that’s just wrong.

“I talked to other people about this and there was no group to focus on that ‒ just individuals who all thought the same, so we started a group.”

ATF looks at route networks in Forres to identify where improvements could be made, including shared paths and dropped kerbs, and shares their findings with Moray Council.

Last year, the group looked at where high kerbs prevent pedestrians or wheelers accessing routes easily. Pavements at the Sanquhar Road end of Nelson Road and at the Forres end of the Dava Way have been adjusted. Kerbs at the end of the footpath near Forres Tennis Club which are particularly difficult for prams and wheelchairs will hopefully be dropped shortly.

Judith stressed the initiative was very much a joint effort and that the nomination should be for the whole group rather than any individual: “It’s very kind. It’s an active group that works together with others to make things easier for everyone who wants to travel more actively.

“We’ve got great hopes for the future and the more volunteers we have, the more we can achieve.”

Julie Sarab

Julie Sarab.
Julie Sarab.

A passion for green projects and inspiring her community to join in has earned Julie Sarab her Heroes nomination.

Along with her friend, Caroline Rattray, Julie helped establish a garden in a wild patch of ground at Aberlour Primary School.

The pair have also set up a bee garden at the high school for bee hives and are working on landscaping and growing food in the school grounds with the help of pupils, while Julie created a community garden at Moray School Bank, working with Graeme Findlay, where groups such as Rainbows, Brownies or other volunteers can come along to plant up, weed, compost and join in other garden projects.

“We go to Aberlour primary two afternoons a week and teach the kids; we do composting, bug hunting, arts and crafts.They sow the seeds, do the weeding, plant the bulbs, harvest the fruit and vegetables. Some of the teachers bake with them and they all get stuff to take home throughout the year. It’s fun doing it.

“Each P7 plants a tree in the hedge before they leave school. We’ve done litter picking and in Aberlour we’ve planted up some of the village planters, donated a barrel with sensory herbs to the care home, planted fruit trees at Walkers, and a lot of teachers have tied in science and other lessons to the garden.”

A nomination said: “Julie has a wealth of knowledge. She is always willing to share with others and gives many hours to volunteering both in her community and in other parts of the world.”

“It’s so they are aware of what happens at all stages of gardening and also ecology,” she explained.

“We talk a lot about birds, insects and other animals, their habitats, our impact on nature and we try to get them to really understand what can happen in the world regarding growing food, helping wildlife and being aware of our communities needs.”

Delighted with her nomination, she added: “I’m amazed and surprised. I had no clue I’d been nominated!”

Springfield is sponsoring the green hero award.

Springfield managing director (North), Dave Main, said: “We’re excited to, once again, sponsor the Moray and Banffshire Heroes green hero award. The awards are a fantastic way to celebrate local people, the great work they do in the community for others and ensure they get the recognition they deserve.

“The green hero is a category we are particularly proud to support as, at Springfield, sustainability is at our core; from the design of our developments, the way we build our homes and the innovative heating solutions we utilise so our customers can enjoy a high quality and energy efficient home.”

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