Bonnybridge man's garden and Facebook group earn him RSPB awards nomination

A Bonnybridge resident’s hidden garden has caught the eye of those judging the RSPB’s tenth anniversary Nature of Scotland Awards.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 12:47 pm

Tom Williamson’s backyard is among a select group shortlisted in the competition’s health and well-being category.

The Thornton Avenue plot is described as a “wildlife-friendly garden”, the main attraction of which is its decorative, insect and bee-friendly plants.

Tom has identified more than 15 different bees, bumblebees, butterflies, hoverflies and birds at his home.

Tom Williamson's Bonnybridge garden has been shortlisted in the health and well-being category of RSPB Scotland's tenth anniversary Nature of Scotland Awards. Picture: Michael Gillen.

His landscaping talents aside, a judging panel put Tom forward for the award after being left equally impressed by his digital work.

During lockdown, Tom created a Facebook page dedicated to green spaces which quickly grew in membership.

Before he knew it, the group comprised more than 3000 social media users, with more than half hailing from outwith Scotland – some from as far away as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Its popularity sprouted, according to Tom, because many were new to gardening, stuck at home and self-isolating as Covid took hold across the globe.

Tom Williamson's garden in Thornton Avenue, Bonnybridge wowed RSPB judges. Picture: Michael Gillen.

The page enabled gardening enthusiasts and newcomers alike to share pictures of their work and post images from walks in nature.

Those involved were able to offer help with garden problems and pass on their plant care knowledge.

Promoting well-being, it also gave people a chance to interact virtually with others and learn mostly about plants but, as an added bonus, discover more about the types of insects certain plants attract.

Tom said: “It’s a great privilege to be shortlisted and this is not just about our garden, but the wildlife found around Falkirk.

Tom Williamson is right at home in his wildlife-friendly garden. Picture: Michael Gillen.

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“Many members of our group have commented on how helpful the group has been, especially for their mental health and well-being throughout Covid.

“Thank you to everyone.”

The awards, co-sponsored by NatureScot, mark a decade of celebrating Scotland’s nature champions.

The contest recognises the individuals and organisations making a difference in their local communities, businesses and schools to support Scotland’s wildlife and special places.

In total, 52 initiatives from across Scotland have been shortlisted across nine categories.

The winners will be announced at a virtual ceremony on November 17.

This year will also see a special tenth anniversary accolade for Nature Champions of the Decade, which will be decided by a public vote from a selection of previous winners from the past ten years.

Anne McCall, RSPB Scotland director, said: “The last 18 months have reignited many people’s love for nature, highlighting its importance to all aspects of our lives – be it our health, the economy or well-being.

“This is reflected in the exceptionally high standard of entries for our tenth anniversary Nature of Scotland Awards.

“We’ve seen outstanding examples from community work and local dog walkers to businesses and schools making a fundamental change to their practices for the benefit of our environment.

“Our judges will not have an easy job whittling this down to just nine winners and, in order to find our tenth, I would urge everyone to vote for their Nature Champions of the Decade.

“Huge thanks to everyone who applied and congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted!”

Click here for more information about the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards.

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