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Winners announced for competition to raise awareness of water scarcity

Brighton Festival, Brighton & Hove environmental education (BHee), Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere and Southern Water have announced the winners of the Our Water Matters competition.

The competition saw primary-aged children challenged to think of ways that they, their families and their schools could save water, with an aim to raise awareness amongst families in the city and beyond about the precious water resource lying beneath our feet.

Both drawings and written entries were submitted by children from over 35 schools, with many including the competition in lessons about the water cycle. Hundreds of entries were received, with ideas ranging from challenging our habit of washing clothes that are not really dirty through to creating a book featuring 24 water saving ideas and illustrations.

Six finalists - Lola Leonard (age 9), Ophelia Sullivan (age 6), Katherina Ilieva (age 11), Junior Fokou (age 10), Zach Wall (age 7), Hope Burnell (age 7) - were invited to a special ceremony at Brighton Dome Café-bar attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove Councillor Lynda Hyde on Friday 3 July. Lola Leonard was chosen as the overall winner of the competition for her ‘bath box’ idea which would save 70% water and energy from a normal bath.

Helen Peake, BHee Education Officer and one of the judges, said, ‘the judging team were really impressed by both the number and quality of entries, and choosing the winners was no easy task. There was a great mix of ideas: simple actions which we can all take to save water every day; exciting new inventions; and ideas for working together and spreading the water-saving message to others. It’s truly inspiring to see the youngest members of our communities with such positive attitudes to caring for our unique local environment.’

Our Water Matters was launched during Brighton Festival 2015 in response to Gauge – a fully immersive and interactive installation based in Circus Street Market which offered visitors a hands-on encounter with weather and water to create a playful and curious investigation into climate change. Created by sonic artists Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey and sponsored by Southern Water, the exclusive work featured several large scale installations created by a group of Australian artists and scientists to reflect the beauty and importance of processes related to water.

The installation also played host to a special weekend of events in which Gauge interacted with Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere, following the local area’s recognition by UNESCO in 2014 as an international site of excellence that is pioneering a positive future for people and nature and incorporates countryside, coast and city. Our Water Matters sought to support their work and raise awareness of the unique area we live in.

Rich Howorth, Biosphere Project Officer explains ‘we are lucky to live in a fantastic environment here which we call our ‘Biosphere’; the Downs, towns and coast are all very special places which we want people to enjoy and look after for the future. Perhaps the most precious thing we have is our natural source of pure drinking water that lies hidden beneath the ground. We need to use it wisely and not waste it.’