Three Donegal based volunteering groups have been shortlisted for the Clean Coasts Ocean Hero Award.
Clean Coasts announced the groups and volunteers that were nominated for the Ocean Hero Awards 2023 with winners announced on 7th December.
The Clean Coasts’ Ocean Hero Awards pay tribute to the exceptional contributions made by Clean Coasts volunteers, groups, and communities in safeguarding our coast and marine life.
Established in 2006 as the ‘Clean Coasts’ Merit Awards,’ the accolades initially featured a single category, ‘The Clean Coasts Group of the Year.’ Over the years, the program has evolved, engaging over 2,000 Clean Coasts groups and 40,000 volunteers, becoming an integral part of coastal communities nationwide.
2023 was a year like no other. This year, the Ocean Hero Awards take on special significance as Clean Coasts marks its 20th Anniversary. For the past 20 years, Clean Coasts has grown from strength to strength expanding and creating campaigns and initiatives aimed at enjoying, protecting and celebrating the beauty of our coast.
None of that would be possible without the groups and volunteers all across Ireland that have helped make and grow the programme into what it is today.
In County Donegal, three groups were shortlisted across three different categories.
Falcarragh Clean Coasts Group were shortlisted in the Tourism Special Recognition Award, supported by Failte Ireland, for the work they did to protect their local sand dunes. The group adhered to the “Protect our Dunes” campaign and created signage in collaboration with Clean Coasts and Donegal County Council. The aim was to create something easy to understand and observe. Drumnatinney Beach is part of the Ballyness Bay SAC and has some of the most impressive sand dunes systems in the country. Latest observations show the signage is working well and visitors largely keep off the dunes. The group’s effort to conserve the dunes set an example for other groups to follow and the signage they created will be used as a template at other sites in Donegal.
Friends of Rossnowlagh Clean Coasts Group were nominated in the Campaigner of the Year category for their driving passion and forward thinking in designing a new campaign to help tackle dog waste on the beach. Friends of Rossnowlagh Clean Coasts Group were nominated in the Campaigner of the Year category for their driving passion and forward thinking in designing a new campaign to help tackle dog waste on the beach. Friends of Rossnowlagh Clean Coasts Group has encouraged the public to clean up after their dogs by inviting all the four-legged friends to join their humans for a clean-up. Participants received a doggie bandana and free bags to equip them for their beach walks. Rossnowlagh Clean Coasts group have shown immense creativity and forward-thinking in their campaigning and the dedication towards keeping their stretch of the coastline free from any marine litter.
Finally, the North West Home Education Group were shortlisted in the Youth of the Year category. This group of children and young adults who are home educating, joined Clean Coasts in 2021 and have carried out beach and river cleans in Inishowen. In addition to weekly outdoors activities followed by beach cleans, in 2023, they hosted a Clean Coast workshop at Buncrana’s Angling Centre and put together an informative project about what is safe to flush down the toilet, as well as creating and showcasing a display at the ESB Science Blast.