I received a lovely email today from TGO Towers letting me know that I have been nominated again in the Great Outdoors Awards 2013 under the “environmental or access initiative of the year” category for my “anti wind farm campaign” on my blog. Whilst this is very flattering, I have no expectations at all of winning, as there are far more worthy recipients of this award.
Because I’ve been been a little preoccupied with getting fit & well after my kidney transplant, I missed the opportunity to nominate my personal choice for this category, which would have been Dave Gibson and his team at the Mountaineering Council of Scotland – the MCofS.
Over the years, the MCofS has fought tirelessly on our behalf, fighting in great detail, on two fronts; the first being the painstaking, almost forensic responses to dozens of individual wind farm applications, and the second, on a much broader front, lobbying the Scottish Government, along with the John Muir Trust and others, for the protection of core wild land areas. They must have spent thousands and thousands of man hours fighting wind farms in Scotland on our behalf.
So, I’m sorry, Dave, I really wish I had nominated you and the MCofS, as in my opinion, you would have been the outstanding candidate for this award.
This led me to think about the whole purpose of the award scheme.
In my view, the Outdoor Awards is an entirely laudable enterprise. We are all very quick to moan like hell about shoddy kit, poor service, and ‘Rip-off-Britain’ in general, so it’s a pleasant change to find a magazine that’s prepared to sing the praises of all the good stuff in our outdoor world. Looking through the enormous list of nominees, there is plenty to sing about.
I applaud whole-heartedly the category of “Environmental or access initiative of the year.” I just wish that this had been split into two categories, as environmental campaigns and access campaigns are completely different and can be promoted by completely different bodies. Combining them means there can be only one winner, and so the other worthwhile cause will lose out. But it might be thought that there are enough categories already; There are nine categories that the public can vote for and a further four categories that a panel of five judges will have the unenviable task of sorting.
I’m now going to have a little whinge. But please bear in mind this whinge should be tempered by the knowledge that I fully support the Great Outdoors’ motives behind their award scheme! So, look away now if you don’t want to read my whinge!
My complaint, if you can call it that, is that the majority of the awards are going to businesses that make money out of our obsession with kit. Stuff. Just how important, in the overall scheme of things, is kit, when we are marvelling at the view of rolling hills and dramatic cloudscapes, with the wind battering us and taking our breath away?
Just how many of these categories deal with the people who inspire others to get outdoors, whether it’s volunteers taking city kids to experience the countryside for the first time in their lives, or inspirational writers and photographers who remind us all of what we are missing when we are chained to the office desk? What about the Youth Hostel wardens, the volunteer Park Rangers. What about the mountain bothy maintenance organisers who work tirelessly in keeping those simple unlocked shelters up-to-scratch? The list of worthy folk who deserve recognition is endless! Perhaps you could leave a few category suggestions in a comment.
Let’s look at the categories:
- Outdoor Clothing Product KIT
- Footwear Product KIT
- Camping Product KIT
- Outdoor Clothing or Equipment Innovation KIT
- Clothing or equipment brand KIT
- Independent retailer Sells KIT
- Online retailer Sells KIT
- Chain retailer Sells KIT
- Accommodation provider Service
- Pub, restaurant or cafe Service
- Environmental or access initiative THE OUTDOORS
- Outdoor book The writers who inspire us
- Outdoor personality A group of wildly disparate souls!
So, eight out of the thirteen categories are all about KIT.
Now, I realise that the Great Outdoors Magazine lives in a tough commercial world and I’ve written about that in the past. I suppose it makes sound economic sense for the magazine to praise to the sky those businesses that have supported the magazine with their advertising budgets over the years, and perhaps, those businesses they hope will advertise with them in the future.
And let’s be honest, there are many outdoor folk who are gear obsessives. I suppose for them, choosing a worthy winner in each of these categories will be a thing of joy.
But, I am afraid that when I look at the long list of kit choices my soul slumps, just a little.