Announcing our local environmental 'Heroes' for 2023


REACH Awards 2023

DDC hosted a ceremony on Sunday 2 July, in the Billiards Room at Kearsney Abbey, to reward some of our community’s local environmental heroes.

The REACH Awards (Recognising Environmental and Community Heroes) recognises the district’s unsung heroes who work hard to improve the appearance of the Dover District by helping to maintain their local environment and building a sense of community pride.

Split into five different categories, the awards acknowledge those individuals and groups who work tirelessly to make a difference, as well as local businesses who are putting the environment at the top of their agenda.

The awards were free to enter, and candidates could nominate themselves or be nominated by others across five categories. Many worthy entries were received for the panel of judges at DDC to review.

When considering the winners for each category, the judges were looking for a clear passion for the environment and a consistent focus on making a difference.  

•           Community project of the year – Dover Repair Café

Dover Repair Café, based in Biggin Hall, Dover, encourages residents to bring their broken items from home for local volunteer experts to repair. It’s a relaxed and friendly environment where everyone enjoys a beverage and more often than not, can lend a hand with someone else’s repair job. It supports the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, repair’ and it’s growing as another repair café is being considered for Deal.

•           Green/ Eco Friendly Business of the Year – She sells Refills, By the Seashore 

She sells Refills, By the Seashore is a small business created by local resident Amy Howie. The aim is to help customers ‘reduce waste and be more eco-friendly in their home and life’ by offering refills for items ranging from household cleaning products to personal care and homeware.

•           Green/Eco Friendly School of the Year – Sir Roger Manwood's School, Sandwich

Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich has a sixth form eco group who have raised money and installed 25 bird boxes on the school roof for swifts which are an endangered species. The students have been working hard to reduce the school’s carbon footprint with other initiatives too such as tree planting, switching light bulbs to LEDs, installing solar panels, encouraging biodiversity on the school site and educating their peers.

•           Litter Picker of the Year (over 18 category) – Mark Morgan

Mark has voluntarily been litter picking in Aylesham for years. His regular daily litter picks often go unnoticed by most people, but he really helps to keep the village and key spaces free from litter and looking attractive.

•           Litter Picker of the Year (under 18 category) – Toby Francis- Smith

Toby litter picks at Elms Vale Recreation Ground in Dover. He often sees someone’s litter left on the ground and picks it up and puts it in a nearby bin. Toby is autistic and has had to overcome many obstacles including anxiety. He absolutely loves wildlife and really hates litter and pollution. Toby feeds the local birds, squirrels and wildlife using feeders in his garden.

Presenting the awards, DDC Chairman, Cllr Gordon Cowan, said: “I’m delighted to recognise our environmental and community heroes. The entries were judged on inspiration, achievement, and environmental impact and we have worthy winners for each category. I would also like to thank every local volunteer, community group, school and business for all the magnificent work that they do to help make our district a cleaner, greener and better place to live.”

Emily Hill, a sixth form student at Sir Roger Manwood's School, said: “It’s really exciting to win and to see our work recognised. It is a great opportunity to highlight the decline of the swift population and show examples of what we can do to help.”

Nikki Francis- Smith (Toby’s mum) said: “We are really proud of Toby’s passion for the local environment and wildlife.”

Notes to editors

Individuals, schools, and groups are recognised for activities that help to make our district a clean and greener place to live such as organising litter picks, reducing the amount of paper and plastic that they use, recycling, upcycling, and reusing items such as furniture and clothes.

For local businesses, the judges were looking for those who have introduced initiatives to become more sustainable to help the planet. This could be anything from conserving water, using greener products, encouraging greener ways of travelling to work, planting shrubs or trees and recycling more to using alternative energy sources for power.

The community project was judged on community initiatives that successfully draw residents together to work towards a common goal. This could be an informal group or a more established local charity, working hard to demonstrate that they’re caring for and improving the environment, and making a difference to the lives of local people.

More information can be viewed at

Photo below: Members of the Dover Repair Café (Community project of the year) receiving their award from DDC Chairman, Cllr Gordon Cowan


Photo below: Emily Hill with teachers from Sir Roger Manwood's School, Sandwich (Green/Eco Friendly School of the Year) receiving their award from DDC Chairman, Cllr Gordon Cowan


Photo below:  Toby Francis- Smith and his mum (Litter Picker of the Year - under 18 category) receiving his award from DDC Chairman, Cllr Gordon Cowan




Posted on 03 July 2023

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