A team of budding conservationists has won first prize in the BOC/ NEPIC environment award for schools for their plans to restore John Whitehead Park in Billingham.

The BOC/ NEPIC environment award invites secondary school pupils from Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and Teesside to submit practical ideas on environmental issues ranging from recycling to the preservation of air and water resources.

Chris Colclough, science specialist manager at St Michael's RC school collected the award and £2000 on behalf of the school team at the annual NEPIC dinner held in Sedgwick. All members of the school's conservation club the six pupils - Daniel Whelpton, Eleanor Bowman, Katherine Sykes, Ruth Bertram, Alice Jones and Hannah Proctor - plan to put their new found skills to work restoring the school memorial garden before taking on a series of park initiatives working with the Friends of John Whitehead Park.

Presenting the award, BOC Teesside manager, Dr Dave Lockyer said: $quot;The BOC/ NEPIC award aims to raise pupils' awareness of environmental issues and empower them to improve their environment through engaging in a real project.$quot;

$quot;Together with our NEPIC partners on the judging panel, BOC has been encouraged by the quality of entries, all of which have shown that students across the north east are keen to protect and enhance their local environment.$quot;

The presentation of the BOC/ NEPIC environment award for schools was accompanied by that for the winner of the BOC/ NEPIC environment award for business, won by Terra Nitrogen (UK) Limited.

BOC environmental projects
BOC has a long tradition of working with local industry to improve processes as well as fostering projects that improve the quality of our air and water resources.

NEPIC is an organisation comprising around 250 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, speciality, commodity and petrochemical companies based in the north east of England.

NEPIC companies are vital to the north east economy providing £8bn of GDP and over 25 percent of the region's industrial base, employing 34,000 people and impacting the income of a further 200,000.