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PM awards outstanding Cheshire volunteer

Monday 2nd October 2017

The Prime Minister has recognised Dr Hilary Ash, from Cheshire, for founding the ‘New Ferry Butterfly Park’ on an abandoned railway depot, creating one of the North’s most biodiverse urban areas.

The five acre reserve, adjacent to Bebington Railway Station, has attracted 50,000 visitors since opening in 1993 and supports at least 397 species. Recently, Hilary has spearheaded the creation of a new sculpture trail on the site, showcasing the work of 11 local artists. Hilary has volunteered her botany expertise for 30 years through the ‘Cheshire Wildlife Trust’, aiding other conservation work across the Wirral and supporting research investigating plant growth on industrial waste sites.

Hilary is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

In a personal letter to Hilary, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“In founding the ‘New Ferry Butterfly Park’, you have created an area of beauty and biodiversity that is benefitting your local community. You should be proud of all you have achieved in your decades of volunteering, and particularly how you have attracted not only 50,000 visitors but supported nearly 400 species.”

Charlotte Harris, Chief Executive Officer at Cheshire Wildlife Trust said: “We were thrilled to hear that Hilary had won today’s Points of Light Award. Volunteers are the live-blood of our organisation – helping us to achieve so much to protect and promote wildlife in Cheshire. Hilary has been instrumental to the success of New Ferry Butterfly Park. Her passion for wildlife and her achievements as part of our local group, Wirral Wildlife, make her a well-deserved winner!”

Hilary said: "I am very surprised to be given this national award. Most of my voluntary work is in Wirral, where I help run a nature reserve, ‘New Ferry Butterfly Park’, and do nature conservation advice and outreach on behalf of ‘Cheshire Wildlife Trust.’ But it is all done together with other people, as it takes lots of volunteers to help nature to thrive and encourage people to enjoy it. So thank you on behalf of us all.”

Hilary is the 791st winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 5,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.