The Executive Director of the Wallings Nature Reserve, Refica Attwood, has been recognised by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her “exceptional voluntary service” in creating Antigua and Barbuda’s first community-managed national park.
Attwood was among dozens of individuals from across the 54 Commonwealth nations who received the Commonwealth Points of Light award.
The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding volunteers every day of the week – people whose service is making a difference in their communities, and whose stories can inspire others to form creative, innovative solutions to social challenges in their own communities and beyond.
The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting brought together leaders from all of the 54 member-countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree on how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people. Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty the Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.
“I am elated to have been awarded for my hard work and dedication in making an impactful difference on those that are around me. Nothing is impossible once you decide to get it done,” Attwood said.
Attwood, 33, hiked around Wallings in her teens, and even at that early age, she noticed that locals were hosting large events and were destroying the area with rubbish. She began documenting the damage and put forward a business plan to government officials, making recommendations on how to save the space.
In 2016, Attwood successfully negotiated a $50,000 grant to regenerate the area, and she has since led multiple reforestation projects, created safe trails for hiking, and built sanitary restroom facilities and outdoor events spaces.
The Resident British High Commissioner in Antigua and Barbuda, Lindsy Thompson, congratulated Attwood on “her well-deserved award.”
“I’d like to congratulate Refica Attwood on her well-deserved award. Her efforts to revitalise, protect, and promote the environmental treasures around the Wallings Nature Reserve are an inspiration and have captured the hearts and imaginations of all those who visit the area,” she said.
As part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London 2018, Her Majesty the Queen, as Head of the Commonwealth, thanked the inspirational volunteers across the 54 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond, by recognising one volunteer, or pair of volunteers, from each Commonwealth country every week.
By sharing these stories of service, the Commonwealth Points of Light awards celebrate acts of charity across the Commonwealth and help to inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the great social challenges of our time.