Meet our 2023 award winners
2 minute read
Our annual awards are a celebration of people who've done incredible things to protect, recover and share appreciation of our ocean. Meet this year's winners below.
This award is our annual opportunity to recognise those who have consistently gone above and beyond. This year’s winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award is Ken Orr. Ken and his group, the Grassroots Conservation Group in Northern Ireland, has been collecting Beachwatch data every year for the past 29 years – yes 29 years. Over that time they have engaged with 295 volunteers, collected 331 bags of litter, weighing over 1700kg, and provided vital data towards our aim of reducing the amount of harmful plastic and other litter items ending up on our beaches, keeping our coastline beautiful and enabling us to campaign for change. Ken and the group are a true inspiration, and a worthy winner of the Marine Conservation Society Outstanding Achievement Award.
Credit: Clare Trotman
Fundraiser of the Year
This year’s award goes to Isabel Kearney, who ran the Great Bristol Half Marathon in September last year, raising just under £500. Isabel chose to support the Marine Conservation Society following a fabulous holiday by the sea in Cornwall, watching her children splashing in the sea, exploring rock pools, and watching compass jellyfish and dolphins. This led Isabel to take action to protect the ocean so her children can continue enjoying them into their own adulthood. Congratulations and thanks so much for your support Isabel.
Credit: Isabel Kearney
Young Fundraiser of the Year
This year’s Young Fundraiser of the Year is Ethan Smollan, who celebrated his bar mitzvah in January by collecting 13 bags of litter from London’s waterways – one for each year of his life – raising over £1500. Quite simply, Ethan says that he loves the sea and all marine life that live in it and wants to do what he can to help to save them. Thank you and congratulations Ethan.
Credit: Ethan Smollen
Young Ocean Optimist
Our Young Ocean Optimist of the Year Award celebrates young people who are working to protect, recover and celebrate our ocean. We want to make sure young people have their voices heard - we know they're an incredible force, their passion for the ocean and concern for our planet is so inspiring. We're proud to be working alongside, and celebrating, some of the young people making waves in their communities.
In the 12 and under category, our winner is Orkney Reid. Since meeting Orkney last year, our team have been continually amazed at his enthusiasm for protecting our ocean. Orkney regularly runs rockpool safaris locally and online for the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, educating people about the wonderful marine life found here in the UK. This September, he ran an incredible 55km around five Scilly islands, raising £4000 for us and the Wildlife Trust, and he’s already planning his next challenge. A huge congratulations and thank you to Orkney – we look forward to seeing what you’ll do next!
Credit: Samaya Reid
In the 13-25 age category, our Young Ocean Optimist of the Year is Irys Chick. Irys has been a dedicated member of our Youth Ocean Network since it began last year, and after meeting our chemicals expert, Dr Francesca Bevan during a Youth Ocean Network call, Irys was inspired to set up her own campaign to help fight chemical pollution in the UK. Irys has been involved in a number of conservation workshops and events across England, including helping to organise and host our ‘Voice for the Ocean’ youth event in Bristol this summer. The event involved running workshops for 40 young people and delivering a Q&A panel with our Ocean Ambassador, Doug Allan. Congratulations and thank you Irys for your incredible ocean optimism!
Credit: Billy Baraclough