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NEWS RELEASE No: 1379419 JULY 2010

Inspirational pupil wins top national award for conservation work

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student weorking in the woods

A 16-year-old pupil from Cedar House School in Kirby Lonsdale has become the first person in the country this year to win the prestigious John Muir Trust Conserver Award thanks to his work with the Forestry Commission.

Shane Lowe from Tebay in Cumbria earned the national award after completing more than 120 hours of work on a number of conservation and landscaping projects, many of which have been in Grizedale Forest. His work has included tree planting, clearing scrubland and revitaliszing an old pond.

The Forestry Commission has been working with Cedar House School since 2006 to involve pupils in conservation work in Grizedale Forest.

The Forestry Commission’s Mark Birchall says:

“The students respond very well to hands on practical tasks and this has been the focus of the work we’ve done together. As a result there is a body of work in Grizedale that the students have completed over the last four years which has contributed to the maintenance of the forest.

“Shane has displayed real dedication and his enthusiasm has been infectious. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and he’s set a wonderful example for all of the other students taking part in these awards.”

It’s the first time that any student at Cedar House School, which caters for boys and girls aged between seven and 16 with complex learning needs, has won this award.

Cedar House headteacher Gillian Ridgway says:

“We’re all delighted for Shane. He’s worked incredibly hard to achieve this award and he thoroughly deserves the accolade. More than 100 of our pupils have taken part in the John Muir Award during the past four years but Shane’s achievement has surpassed all our expectations. Many of our younger pupils have been inspired to try and match his achievement in the future.”

The John Muir Trust Awards is the leading wild land conservation charity in the UK. The Conserver Award is focused on wild places and encourages both awareness and responsibility for the natural environment in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

There are three levels of involvement which progress from the Discovery Award through to the Explorer Award to the highest level, the Conserver Award, which requires candidates to complete the equivalent of 20 days work over a six month period.

The school’s John Muir Award co-ordinator Mykola Hrynk says:

“Shane has been a real inspiration for his fellow pupils and has acted as an ambassador for both himself and the school while talking about the work that he’s done.

“It’s been invaluable for all the children to engage in these conservation projects. As well as gaining real practical skills it’s boosted their confidence and taught them about the environment and how they relate to it.”

Shane will be presented with his award certificate at a special ceremony in September.

Cedar House School, part of the Witherslack Group of schools, is a residential school for children with a wide range of special needs. The school provides opportunities for children to achieve their full potential and gain skills for their future life.

For more information about the Forestry Commission go to

For more information about the John Muir Awards go to


1.  Images of Shane Lowe are attached.

2. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests today are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.

3. Cedar House School is a 38 week residential and day special school which caters for boys and girls aged between seven and 16 with complex learning needs. It is one of eight schools and six children’s homes run by the Witherslack Group.

4. The Witherslack Group provides a diverse day residential and 52 week system of education and care for children with special needs. The group educates and cares for up to 300 children and young people from the age of four to 19. At present it provides services for 65 local authorities from across the United Kingdom.

Mark Birchall on 07881 478465.or Sarah Bruce, the Forestry Commission marketing manager in Cumbria, on 01229- 862011.