This year's winners line up with the trophy
Two schools have been unveiled as the 2018 winners of the Provost's Footprint Challenge, the first time the environmental prize has been jointly awarded. The teams, from Kyle Academy and Southcraig School, were recognised at a special ceremony at Ayr Town Hall.
Launched in 2015, the Provost's Footprint Challenge celebrates and rewards the work of South Ayrshire secondary schools, while focusing efforts on driving down ecological footprints, reducing carbon emissions, and saving money.
The projects submitted for 2018 ranged from growing their own vegetables; student led litter campaigns; introducing new split recycling bins; a parent and child cooking club using local produce; outdoor learning; as well as widespread activity to support the WWF's Earth Hour campaign, which raises awareness about climate change.
South Ayrshire Provost, Helen Moonie, said the standard of entry had been particularly high, "More people than ever before are talking about the best ways to protect and improve our environment by taking simple measures such as cutting down on plastics, so this year's awards came at an important time.
"The Footprint Challenge gets our young people thinking about practical ways of helping reduce energy use and challenge stubborn habits to help save money and reduce waste.
"We literally couldn't decide on one single winner this year so we took the unprecedented step of announcing the two strongest entries as joint winners. However, I'd like to thank everyone who took part, with all our entries showing real insight about tackling simple issues we all face every single day."
As joint winners of the Provost's Footprint Challenge 2018, both schools demonstrated a thorough understanding of the task at hand.
Kyle Academy: The inaugural winners in 2016, Kyle have built on their work in the last 12 months. The school ran a War on Waste campaign, while their switch-off campaign was very successful. This year Kyle were awarded the first ever Fairtrade and Climate Change Award at the Scottish Fairtrade Forum Awards, they came second in a national school challenge organised by Community Resources Network Scotland and put together an advert for the general public on reuse versus recycling.
Lynne Rankin from Kyle Academy said their eco group of S1-S3 pupils had worked hard through the year, "A huge well done and thank you to our amazing ECO group who for the second time in three years have won the Gold medal for the Provost's School Footprint Challenge."
Southcraig School: Runners up in 2016, Southcraig moved to take joint first place after a busy year of activity. Southcraig were awarded funding from Wrigley for litter picking equipment which has been used in the school grounds and along Ayr beach, collecting more than 10kg of litter. The school placed bricks in cisterns across the school in a move it's estimated will save 1,100 litres of water every year. Progress was also made on a number of projects including a washing line outside to dry clothes; gardening; 'turn off water' and 'turn off lights' signs, and using sing Fairtrade products in the school.
17 year old Andrew Stratton, Southcraig School (S5) said that he was pleased all their hard work had paid off, "I felt very great about winning. It made me smile lots!"
Girvan Academy were announced as runners-up. The school took part in large scale community litter picks, recycled material for art projects, rural skills classes grew produce in the school grounds, while a parent and child cooking club was also set up.
Elaine Harrigan, Headteacher at Girvan Academy, said, "The challenge gives young people the opportunity to put into practice the skills they develop throughout their studies. We're particularly proud of the work we've done to reduce the litter in the community and look forward to strengthening this next session."