Awards honour our environmental heroes

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Bermuda's "pre-eminent conservationist" has been honoured with the highest award the Bermuda National Trust gives out — the Silver Palmetto.

David Wingate, who is probably best know for his work on making Nonsuch Island resemble 'old Bermuda', was given the award at the organisation's annual meeting and award ceremony at the Botanical Gardens' Visitor Centre on Thursday night.

Jennifer Gray, the new executive director of the Trust and a former recipient of the award in 2004, said the only thing surprising about the honour was that it had not been given to Dr. Wingate before.

  • Photo By Akil Simmomns
BNT awards
David Wingate who won the Silver Palmetto Award
June 19,2008

    Photo By Akil Simmomns BNT awards David Wingate who won the Silver Palmetto Award June 19,2008


Bermuda's "pre-eminent conservationist" has been honoured with the highest award the Bermuda National Trust gives out — the Silver Palmetto.

David Wingate, who is probably best know for his work on making Nonsuch Island resemble 'old Bermuda', was given the award at the organisation's annual meeting and award ceremony at the Botanical Gardens' Visitor Centre on Thursday night.

Jennifer Gray, the new executive director of the Trust and a former recipient of the award in 2004, said the only thing surprising about the honour was that it had not been given to Dr. Wingate before.

She said: "It is hard to know where to begin with David. Yes, he is Bermuda's pre-eminent conservationist, the man who knows more about Bermuda and its environment than anyone else.

"Yes, he made Nonsuch Island into the living museum it is today, saved the Cahow and is saving our Longtails.

"Yes, he has done more than anyone alive to identify Bermuda's unique flora and establish programmes to ensure the survival of some of our endangered endemics.

"And yes, he has inspired and taught generations of Bermudians to love and preserve our unique environmental heritage, but to the National Trust David is much more than all of that.

"Every decision starts with David's field research and relies on his judgment. When the council was deciding to give David the Silver Palmetto Award the main topic of discussion was why he had not already been given this award at least a few times."

Dr. Wingate gave words of thanks and then urged the younger generation to become more involved in ensuring the work of the Trust would continue.

Though, he said, he was encouraged after seeing the youth that were given awards at the ceremony, finishing his comments by saying: "Where in God's name would Bermuda be without the National Trust?"

Another David at the ceremony, former Premier Dr. Saul, also gave glowing reviews of the young people, especially those at St. George's Preparatory who were already going green.

After winning the Patsy Philips Bermudiana Award, the Trust's top environment award for his leadership of Buy Back Bermuda Committee, Dr. Saul said he could not have done it alone.

He said: "It's not in my nature to accept personal awards but I do want to say I am accepting this award on behalf of six individuals of Buy Back Bermuda.

"I want to accept it not on behalf of David Saul, but on behalf of the team. To St. George's Preparatory thank you to them for the $10,000 from a little school."

Also awarded in the same category as Dr. Saul, the Environmental awards, were Anson Nash for mangrove restoration, Save Open Spaces for propagating Bermuda's native and endemic plants and Stephen Barton for his support of the Bermuda Audubon Society, Richard and Mary Winchell for clean-ups in Hamilton Parish, Skye Graham-Welton, Gemma Border, Deirdre Collins, Lexy Carey, Molly Riihilouma and Kerina Cann for their commitment to the conservation of marine turtles and Nell Johnston for preserving Bermuda's plant lore.

St. George's Preparatory School, was honoured with the top prize in the school's award programme, for their outstanding effort toward protecting open spaces, which includes the $10,000 they raised for Buy Back Bermuda.

Also recognised in that category was The Educational Centre for their produce garden, Gilbert Institute for encouraging students to think environmentally, the Bermuda High School for best environmental practices, Prospect Primary for actively learning about bluebirds and invasive plants, Port Royal Primary School for their fair which focused on environment, the Elliott Primary School for adopting Penhurst Park, and other trash programmes and East End Primary for its butterfly garden and mini nature reserve.

Continuing with the theme, three Outstanding Environmentalists were honoured. Emily Nagel, an M3 student at Somersfield Academy for starting an environmental group at her school and Ronisha Smith, 11, for attending every KBB clean-up.

The top award, The David Wingate Award, went to 14-year-old Caitlin O'Doherty for among other things, initiating an "eco-hall" at Bermuda High School.

In the first category of the night, Architecture and Preservation, Sarah Haycock Tafur, Daniel Tafur, Greg and Patricia Haycock, Donald Davis and Greg Corbett received the Clipper Award for their restoration of 'Norwood' an 18th Century cruciform house.

Also recognised in that category was John Adams, Andrew Trimingham and Bill Robertson for the construction of 'Bellebottom' a new house exemplifying traditional Bermudian architecture.

Finally in a new category for the Trust awards, Awareness Awards, Panatel was recognised for their information based programme, 'Learnalots' and Greenrock for educating and promoting environmentally conscious behaviours.

The top award in this category went in memory of Deforest Trimingham to the Bermuda Audubon Society, Sangita Iyer, and the Bermuda Broadcast Company for the environmental programme, "Enviroshorts".

Minister of Social Rehabilitation and Culture Dale Butler and Governor Sir Richard Gozney were on hand to give the awards and Minister Butler closed his remarks by saying: "In the words supplied by President Bush, "I leave you with three words 'Well done'."

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