kate freeman

You moved the Earth
Celebrating inspiring activism

Kate Freeman, protecting Stonehenge for more than 20 years

Kate Freeman first became involved in the campaign to protect Stonehenge in the early 1990s when she had 4 young children.

At that time there was a furious national debate about plans to ease traffic congestion on the A303 which passes through the World Heritage Site. In between looking after her toddler, she spent hours campaigning against a road-widening and tunnelling scheme through parts of Stonehenge ancient landscape.

That plan never went ahead. But in 2013 Chancellor George Osborne brought forward a new budget for more ambitious proposals, involving a dual carriageway, flyover, bridges and a tunnel.

“My youngest son is now 27 years old, I have grey hairs, and I’m still campaigning on this issue,” says Kate. “It really is time to put a lid on this. You can’t just drive a road through a World Heritage Site willy-nilly”.

Ben Mabbett, Birmingham architect who gave his time for free

Ben Mabbett is a professional architect who took on the challenge of designing and project-managing a £250,000 refurbishment of Birmingham Friends of the Earth's headquarters.

Ben threw himself into the project on top of his full-time job, saving the local group many thousands of pounds.

The Warehouse has become a well-known social justice and environmental hub in Birmingham city centre. About 20 social enterprises and charity groups, such as the Muslim Women’s Network, rent space. There's also a bike shop, cycle courier business and a vegetarian café.

Leicester team plugs clean air

Leicester Friends of the Earth travelled around Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire wielding a giant plastic plug.

The group wanted to highlight the fact that plans to electrify the Midland Mainline north of Kettering had been dropped. Dirty diesel trains passing through stations in the area are a major source of air pollution.

As well as holding fun family events on reducing plastic waste, the group took up the cause of 21 trees scheduled to be cut down in the city's St George's churchyard. They organised a community vigil and invited local poets and artists along to celebrate the lives of the trees.

Helen Tandy: Chester's last straw?

"I’d been thinking for a while that it was time to put Chester on the map," says Helen Tandy, Chester and District group co-ordinator. “I think we've done that!”

Earlier this year the group persuaded 70 Chester businesses to commit to cutting down their use of plastic straws. They achieved this campaign success in less than the target 3 months.

The group’s next goal is Plastic-Free City status for Chester. They enjoy a healthy rivalry with neighbouring Manchester Friends of the Earth to see which city will get there first.

Lorraine Inglis, defending the High Weald countryside

Lorraine has worked tirelessly to unite a number of anti-drilling groups against oil exploration in South East England.

Her fight began after she spent time at the Balcombe protest camp, not far from her mother's house. This camp was set up to demonstrate against Cuadrilla's plans to drill a new oil well in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Although the company now says it is not fracking here, the acid stimulation process it's likely to use raises many concerns for locals.

Lorraine wanted to make campaigning more efficient. "I realised we were all fighting to defend similar areas which sat upon the same geology," she says. She was one of the founders of the umbrella organisation, Weald Action Group, in 2016.

Recently Lorraine has spearheaded the community response to a proposed injunction being brought by oil company UKOG, which is trying to stop peaceful protests at drilling sites.

Earthmovers awards 2018

These great campaigners are winners of a Friends of the Earth Earthmovers award.

Supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery, the awards celebrate grassroots activism across the country. Friends of the Earth has the biggest network of grassroots environmental activism groups in the UK. Some Earthmovers winners are from one of these groups, others are from outside organisations.

Here are a few more highlights:

  • Oxford Friends of the Earth has been campaigning against plans for a new highway between Cambridge and Oxford.
  • Gosport & Fareham local group has engaged local schools and colleges on air pollution.
  • 80 year-old Ray Cobbett won a Lifetime Achievement Award for campaigning for over 40 years in Havant.
  • Hackney & Tower Hamlets Friends of the Earth organised a clean air café where residents discussed air pollution.
  • Lynne Tate and Duncan Lawrence from Save Druridge Bay were recognised for their vibrant campaign which stopped a planned opencast coal mine in Northumberland in its tracks.