Mayfield student’s winning ‘brownprint’ creates a serious ‘blueprint’ to secure our ecological future

AWARD WINNING: Annabel is given her award by TV and radio presenter Tom Heap

A sixth former at Mayfield School is celebrating winning a prestigious international geography award. Jack Thornton discovers what made the judges choose her informed and cleverly-designed plan which addresses the complex geographical problems we increasingly face…

Annabel, a Sixth Former at Mayfield School for Girls, has won the Royal Geographical Society’s Young Geographer of the Year competition for her age group. The prestigious international award encourages young people to think creatively and analytically about geographical themes.

The annual competition, held by the Royal Geographical Society in partnership with Geographical magazine, has now been running for over twenty years and this year around 35,000 young people took part.

The theme for 2023 was ‘A blueprint for the future’, with entrants being invited to share innovative ideas to address problems in areas such as food production and supply, energy and sustainability, resources, population growth, travel, biodiversity and more.

Professor Joe Smith, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) said: “As a global community we are facing many complex geographical problems now which will become increasingly critical in the future.

“The ‘blueprints’ submitted give me hope that the next generation of geographers is well equipped with the skills and understanding to drive forward the changes needed to ensure a sustainable future.”

Entrants in the competition were separated into four age categories: KS2 (Years 7-11), KS3 (11-14), KS4 (14-16) and KS5(16-18).

Pupils in the first three categories were required to submit an A3-size poster, which could be hand-drawn or produced digitally, while Key Stage 5 students (aged 16-18) had to submit an Esri StoryMap or write an essay, of no more than 1,500 words.

Annabel’s winning entry in the Key Stage 5 category proposed a ‘brownprint’ rather than a blueprint – a plan that involved preserving and regenerating peatlands as a way of solving some of our global challenges.

The competition judges were impressed by the proposal and said: “Linking to agriculture, carbon storage, hazard reduction and water quality, Annabel demonstrated a deep knowledge of the complex way in which these geographical issues are interlinked – great work Annabel.”

Reflecting on her win Annabel commented: “I’m thrilled to be honoured with this award. The regeneration of peatlands is something I’m truly passionate about, so having my efforts acknowledged means a lot.

“I am enjoying diving deeper into Geography at A-level and want to pursue it further at university. I’m looking forward to the exciting journey ahead!”

The 2023 winning pupils were awarded their certificates by television and radio presenter, Tom Heap, at a ceremony held at the Royal Geographical Society, near Kensington Gardens in London last month.

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