Education officer receives Thames Rivers Trust award

Robyn Shaw, Education and Engagement Officer at the South East Rivers Trust (SERT), has become the first recipient of a new award that celebrates the life of a passionate supporter of work to promote rivers.

The award has been created by Thames Rivers Trust (TRT) to celebrate the late Peter Spillett, one of their Trustees for more than 10 years, who cared passionately about improving the Thames’ tributary rivers and the wildlife that they sustain.

With rivers facing a breadth of challenges and many children having a disconnect with their local blue spaces, the judges were delighted to be able to recognise the importance of providing hands on river education for children in and by their local rivers.

Robyn receives the Peter Spillett award
Thames Rivers Trust CEO Miles Morgan awarding the TRT Peter Spillett Award to South East Rivers Trust’s Robyn Shaw, the first recipient of this prestigious new environmental accolade. Credit TRT

Robyn delivers precisely those opportunities through SERT’s Project Kingfisher education programme. This supports schools to bring curriculum topics such as rivers and local wildlife habitats to life. It gives pupils the chance to get outdoors and connect with their river and the many species of wildlife that require healthy rivers to survive.

TRT’s new CEO Miles Morgan presented Robyn with her award on Saturday at SERT’s official opening of Chamber Mead wetlands in Ewell, Surrey. The 2000m2 wetlands aims to reduce pollution entering the River Hogsmill and improve water quality.

Miles said: “Robyn was nominated by a colleague for her passion and innovation and the positive impact she has made over the last year developing resources and working with schools, groups and families in London rivers. TRT is proud to give this special recognition and congratulate her hard work with students and families across four river catchments in South West London and Surrey.”

Over the 2022-23 SERT financial year from July to June, Robyn delivered 94 sessions to 42 schools, teaching 3,743 pupils in assemblies and outdoor sessions. These have taken place in places along the Hogsmill, Beverley Brook, Wandle and Mole rivers across Kingston, Wandsworth, Sutton, Ewell, Surrey and Merton.

Robyn said: “I am thrilled to win this award, which was totally unexpected.  It is very special and humbling to be recognised in the name of someone who did so much for rivers and the Thames Rivers Trust. It means a great deal. I find our work with children and young people so rewarding, so it’s fantastic that other people share the value of helping children understand the importance of rivers and connecting with nature.”

SERT’s Co CEO Dr Bella Davies added: ”We’re delighted that Robyn’s work has been recognised by the Peter Spillett Award. During her time with us, she has really thrown herself into the education role at SERT, coming up with new ways to keep the children engrossed about the wonders of river life and leaving them wanting to know more.”

Peter’s family said: “We are thrilled to see the TRT Peter Spillett award being given to such a worthy recipient as Robyn. Peter was always a strong supporter of work to improve our rivers and would be very proud that such work was being recognised in his name.”

The annual award is now open for this year’s entries and is once again seeking nominations for an outstanding individual who works or volunteers with a Rivers Trust or another NGO delivering projects for the environmental good of rivers in the Thames River Basin.

For more details about our education programmes and the chance to book sessions for schools and youth groups, indoors and outdoors, please visit our education page.

Watch the video of Miles presenting the award to Robyn below.