Volunteer Niamh Byrne beach cleaning

Last call for Young Ocean Optimist of the Year nominations

4 minute read

At our annual conference in December, we'll be announcing the winner of our Young Ocean Optimist of the Year Award. If you know someone under-18 who's done something amazing for the ocean, be sure to let us know by 24th October 2021.

Due to popular demand, we've extended the deadline for nominations to Sunday 24th October 2021.

All about our Young Ocean Optimist Award

Who is the award for?

Our Young Ocean Optimist of the Year Award is a celebration of young people who've done incredible things to protect, recover, and share appreciation of our ocean.

You can nominate yourself or someone you know, but you or they must be under-18. Nominees should be individuals rather than groups or schools, and the reason for nomination should relate to the last 12 months. The award will be divided into two categories: under 12s, and 13- to 18-year-olds.

How do I nominate someone?

Use the form at the bottom of this page to tell us a bit about the nominee, and include the incredible thing/s they've done to look after our seas in the last year. You can include supporting evidence (images, documents, links to videos or websites), but please ensure you have the nominee's consent to share images or videos of them.

What are the judges looking for?

Our judges will be focusing on the following criteria:

  • Is the achievement or project marine focused?
  • Did the achievement or project take place in the last year?
  • What's the scale of the impact the nominee has made?
  • Are they engaging others to take action for marine conservation? Are they involved in multiple projects?
  • How much time has been dedicated?
  • Are there future plans for the achievement or project?
  • Is this their own initiative? Is it innovative?
  • Has the nominee engaged with any of the Marine Conservation Society's campaigns or projects?

Got someone in mind?

Use our nomination form below, to put someone forward for the award. If you have any trouble with the form, get in touch at [email protected]. Good luck!

What happens next?

We'll be in touch to let you know that your nomination has been received and whether we require any further information. Nominations will close on 24th October 2021 and our two winners then chosen by our judging panel, which will include our CEO, Sandy Luk.

Our shortlisted nominees and the winner will all be invited to our online conference and AGM, where both winners will be be announced live as part of our awards cereemony which recognises those who are doing something extraordinary for the ocean. All nominees will receive a certificate, and our winners will receive glass trophies.

Registration for this year's conference which will focus on our current projects to protect and restore our ocean, will open at the end of October. The popular event is will be held online again this year and will be attended by thousands of people from all over the world.

Meet our previous winners

After a challenging year of lockdowns and uncertainty, last year’s nominees stayed optimistic in their fight for a healthy ocean. Read on to get inspired and meet some of the Young Ocean Optimists making this the generation of positive ocean action.

Georgie Bull

Georgie was the first ever winner of our Young Ocean Optimist of the Year Award, and her passion for our ocean, and her belief in inspiring a connection between the public and our UK seas, is clear.

Alongside studying Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology at Plymouth University full-time, she’s a dedicated Sea Champion, Seasearch diver, and chairperson of her university’s Scuba Society, as well as the youngest ever winner of the British and Irish Underwater Photography Championship.

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Georgie Bull

Georgie’s award-winning images have allowed her to reach a wide variety of new audiences, and inspire an interest in the colourful and vital marine life found here on our doorstep. Georgie’s work aims to strengthen positive, emotional, and lasting relationships between people and our ocean, and what greater demonstration is there than that, of true ocean optimism.

Poppy Lewis-Ing

Poppy is part of the Ullapool Sea Savers, a group of young people who are passionate about protecting their local marine environment.

Poppy is the group’s Otter Ambassador and sought help from Scottish Environment LINK’s Species Champion Scheme, the international Otter Survival Fund and Scottish Wildlife Trust to secure a representative for otters at Holyrood.

Highland MSP Kate Forbes took up the challenge, making this the first time a young person has actively recruited a new MSP Species Champion.


Poppy Lewis-Ing

Poppy has also campaigned for road signs in Ullapool to help highlight that traffic in the area is a serious threat to otters’ survival.

Read more about the Sea Savers’ impressive work in Poppy’s blog, published on the Marine Biological Association’s Young Marine Biologist website.

Martim Sandhu

Martim has long been passionate about the ocean and marine life, and one day hopes to become a marine biologist. Since January 2020, Martim has been coming up with creative ways to raise money for us. He started by asking for donations instead of gifts for his birthday party, raising a brilliant £150.

After that, he wanted to raise even more money and decided to do an incredible 25-mile sponsored walk, before going on to take part in the 2.6 Challenge during the first lockdown.

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Martim Sandhu

With the help of his brother, Lucas, Martim drew 26 different sea creature pictures and raised a further £300 towards our work.

As well as raising money, Martim also spends his time cleaning beaches in his local area. His love and determination to protect the ocean continues to inspire those around him.

Bethan Stewart James

Since finding out about plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean when she was five years old, Bethan set about learning all she could and taking actions to help make a difference. Along with her three best friends, Leila, Eliza and Erin, her ideas have inspired her whole school and got adults and children litter picking together.

Bethan was a founding member of her school’s eco club, and even wrote a manifesto with ideas for the school’s next steps.

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Bethan Stewart James

Her manifesto, along with letters to her local MP and Greta Thunberg, have been published in the book, Your Planet Needs You by Bernadette Vallely, and Bethan has taken part in online workshops discussing the manifesto speaking in both Welsh and English.

She spends her free time litter picking – even on holiday! - and believes in the power of everyone working together to help our ocean.

Finlay Pringle

Along with his sister, Finlay was one of the first young people in the UK to join Greta Thunberg and start climate striking. He has taken part every Friday since December 2018 before deciding to start a climate action alongside the strike. Now they do a weekly litter pick around their village and local beaches.

During last year’s lockdown, Finlay saw the state of the beach at Balchladich, and removed almost 1.4 tonnes of marine litter off the beach with his family and friends!

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As a result of Finlay’s beach cleans, his local Tesco supermarket has agreed to store their plastic rubbish differently to reduce the amount escaping during stormy weather. Finlay also actively uses social media to promote his campaigns for sharks, pollution and climate change.

Children volunteers litter picking at the Great British Beach Clean on Rottingdean Beach 2020

Credit: Billy Barraclough

Nominate someone now!