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News / Ollaberry school’s green triumph

Winners! The Ollaberry pupils and staff with Shetland MSP Tavish Scott at a sunny London Zoo this week.

PUPILS from a tiny Shetland school are returning to the islands in a state of shock after scooping a national environmental award in London on Thursday.

The seven pupils from Ollaberry primary were astonished when their marine litter project and accompanying home-made animation about Tommy the Turtle won the £5,000 Total Green Schools Award.

The Shetland children were competing against much larger school in a competition that originally had more than 35,000 kids competing.

The winning project started out with a trip to a local beach where they found a large quantity of litter, along with a range of other discarded items ranging from a welly boot to a discarded baked bean tin and an onion.

This led them to produce reuseable shopping bags from old T-shirts, working with Tagon Stores in Voe on recycling, and producing their video.

The pupils had to give a short presentation at London Zoo in front of a selection of judges from the Young People’s Trust for the Environment who ran the award for oil giant Total.

Head teacher Marianne Raikes said they were “absolutely overwhelmed”, and one of the children burst into “happy tears” when they were revealed as the winners.

Raikes told BBC Radio Shetland the judges were particularly impressed by the Youtube video, which gave the project a global audience and has already received more than 1,000 views.

The video is an animation of cut out characters drawn by the children, who also provide the narration. It features the life of Tommy the Turtle who gets advice from his grandfather about not mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, the main diet of the leatherback turtle.

They also suggest a range of alternative uses for plastic bags, including bin liners, picking up dog poo and a bike seat cover for when it’s wet.

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