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North Norfolk high school teacher wins 'eco hero' award for school allotment project

PUBLISHED: 17:03 30 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 01 April 2019

Matt Willer of Reepham High School and College, has won an award for being an eco hero. Photo: RHS/Jason Bye

Matt Willer of Reepham High School and College, has won an award for being an eco hero. Photo: RHS/Jason Bye

RHS

A green-fingered north Norfolk teacher, who created a school allotment out of recycled and fly tipped materials, has won an award celebrating his efforts as an eco-friendly role model.

Matt Willer, centre, inspects what's growing at Reepham High School and College's Allotment Project. Picture: STUART ANDERSONMatt Willer, centre, inspects what's growing at Reepham High School and College's Allotment Project. Picture: STUART ANDERSON

Matt Willer, who teaches at Reepham High School, launched the project in 2015 and worked with pupils to transform an abandoned corner of the school playing field.

They created the allotment almost entirely from recycled items, and 150 fly-tipped tyres.

And the history teacher, who was entered into the Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards by Reepham High, won the public vote for the 2018-19 Eco Hero, and a £500 cash prize for the school.

The judges of the award, which is sponsored by energy firm Vattenfall, said: “Matt is inspiring [in his] energy and commitment to sustainability and teaching.

Members of Reepham High School's allotment team with teacher Matt Willer. Picture: Ian BurtMembers of Reepham High School's allotment team with teacher Matt Willer. Picture: Ian Burt

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“We were really inspired by the humility he brings to the project.

“The best sustainability leaders give others space to innovate.”

Reepham High also came in first place in the secondary school category for the allotment project,

Primary school catergory winners, Ellingham VC Primary School, at the Eco Awards. Photo: Norfolk County Council/Norwich City CouncilPrimary school catergory winners, Ellingham VC Primary School, at the Eco Awards. Photo: Norfolk County Council/Norwich City Council

The judges were impressed by the sustainable irrigation system, outdoor eco-classroom and rope pump to collect rainwater.

The finalists were recognised for their efforts at the awards ceremony, at St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, on Thursday, March 28, hosted by conservationist and biologist Professor Ben Garrod.

Professor Garrod said: “I was thrilled to have the honour of hosting. It’s inspiring to see the younger participants, who are not just tomorrow’s conservationists, but already proving you’re never too young to make a difference.”

READ MORE: Hellesdon High School pupil nicknamed ‘trash girl’ by bullies refuses to stop collecting litter

Tom McCabe, from Norfolk County Council, said: “It is everyone’s responsibility to prioritise sustainability and these environmental champions will inspire the next generation.”

Richard Wilson, from Norwich City Council said: “The judges were blown away by the projects put forward, making it really difficult to choose the winners.”

And Mark Fisher, from sponsor WSP Norfolk, added: “We are committed to be carbon neutral for our own operations by 2025.”

The primary school category was won by Ellingham VC Primary School, and the food producer winner was Mindful Mondays Project.

The community group category was won by the Norwich FoodHub and the winner of the small or medium business category was Zero Taxis.

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