Award for students at Sussex Downs College in Lewes

Students from Sussex Downs College in Lewes were the first to receive a new award recognising environmental achievements.

The eco-friendly young people attended a ceremony at their new, self-built, ‘outdoor classroom’ at the Lewes campus to be honoured with the South Downs National Park’s John Muir Discovery Award.

The award is open to any individual or group, including families, school and youth groups, those out of work, and employees seeking meaningful team-building tasks in the National Park.

The students participated in the scheme as part of their Outdoor Construction Course at the college, where they worked with the South Downs National Park Authority on a hedge-laying and coppicing project.

Leading the project, South Downs Ranger Mark Hayward took the students and their tutors to visit a variety of wild hedges in the National Park, which they then used as inspiration to develop an outdoor classroom in the college grounds.

He said: “The students were taught the technique of laying, staking and binding a hedge, as well as how to care for them and use the tools safely.” Materials for the hedge were sourced locally by the students who at the same time learnt coppicing techniques.

Nikki Sanger, Conservation Lecturer at Sussex Downs College, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity for the students to develop skills for a future in the environmental, agriculture, forestry or carpentry sector, to name just a few. I’m really impressed with the young people on the Outdoor Construction Course – they have worked really hard in all kinds of weather.”