MALLUSK man Michael Martin has been hailed a ‘Rural Hero’ at the prestigious Countryside Alliance Awards in London.
Michael, who runs the Six Mile Water Trust, recently attended the awards finals at the House of Commons and was delighted to receive a plaque and certificate from Countryside Alliance Chairman, Kate Hoey MP.
The awards, nicknamed the ‘Rural Oscars’, have been running for seven years and were set up to celebrate the characters, produce, traditions and enterprise of the countryside through the people who work so hard to make it tick. Michael was nominated in the Rural Hero category which honours those doing something heroic for the countryside, often unsung.
Speaking at the awards reception, which was attended by regional champions from all over the UK and Ireland, Ms Hoey praised Michael for his unstinting efforts at protecting the Sixmilewater river, its tributaries and its wildlife from pollution.
“This year’s Rural Hero doesn’t seek or expect praise - he does what he does out of a genuine passion. He has been instrumental in setting up the Six Mile Water Trust, formed as a result of a disastrous pollution incident in June 2008,” she said.
“Michael Martin is involved in an education programme with local schools, teaching the importance of plant life and invertebrates in the river and how to introduce fingerling trout. He works closely with Government agencies, local councils and local businesses all in his quest to improve the river for the good of the community and the associated flora and fauna. He is an avid fly-tyer, angler, dog-handler and shot and makes himself available, whenever possible, to promote good practice and love of the countryside.
“Michael’s resolve, knowledge and quiet firm manner tempered with humour has meant that he has gained the respect and support of many, including the Countryside Alliance.”
Following the reception, Ms Hoey took Michael and his wife on a tour of the House of Commons during which they spent time in the viewing gallery listening to MPs debate the matters of the day, before South Antrim MP William McCrea took them to the members’ room for tea and scones.
“It was an incredible experience and one my wife and I will never forget,” Michael told the Times. “I can’t thank the people involved enough. We were made to feel very welcome and to watch the politicians in action is simply fascinating; the sense of history in the House is incredible. I feel very honoured to have been asked to attend the reception never mind win the overall UK award.”
For more information about the work of the Six Mile Water Trust log on to www.sixmilewatertrust.co.uk