I have been a fan of Simon Armitage ever since my father gave me a copy of Armitage's account of his walking the Pennine Way, unusually from North to South. His poet laureateship has been studded with laudable acts and interventions, not least of which is his recent announcement of an award for Nature Poetry.
One of his co-authors, Robert MacFarlane, is also a strong proponent of the value of the natural environment. His trilogy of nature writing, all about walking old, wild and historic places have played an important part in the development of many people's understanding and interactions with walking in nature. Robert's children's book, the lost words, beautifully illustrated by Jackie Morris, stands against the loss of wild childhood and was prompted by the deletion of 'nature' words from the Oxford Children's English Dictionary.
Young people are in some instances losing their connection with the natural world, with an increasing proportion living in urban environments. Planners, writers and parents all have a role to play in helping kids learn to love nature.
On the other side of that coin, Britain's young people have been leading the way in highlighting the climate and ecological emergencies our world faces.
In light of these challenges, Armitage's award seems even more important. I challenge each of you to encourage a young person to enter this competition, and to write from an experience of nature that has set their imagination alight.