Ann's new year honour
A former Maybole woman was awarded an MBE in the New Year's
Honours. Ann Coleman, 56, was honoured for services to environmental
justice and to the community of Greengairs, Lanarkshire.
Ann Clark, as she was then, moved to Fineview Place,
Maybole from Minishant when she was 3 years old.
She attended Cairn Primary and then Carrick Academy and her
first job on leaving school was in the bottom co-op grocery store. She
then went to Ayr to work for a few years before returning to work in
Jersey Kapwood and then Callaghan's.
She got married in 1970 and left Maybole in 1971 for the
bright lights of Chapelhall in Lanarkshire. Ann says, "The summers were
awful to begin with, I missed not being able to get on my bike when I
finished work and cycle to the shore, it was difficult getting used to the
more industrialised environment as opposed to the clean air and
countryside views that we enjoyed in Maybole. Through time I moved from
Chapelhall to Glenmavis and then in 1994 to Greengairs where I now live on
a small farm with my husband who breeds Highland Cattle for a hobby.
Ann's mum still lives in Maybole, one of her brother's was
a local "bobby" before moving to live and work in Ayr, her other brother
now works with the Met Office in Aberdeen having started his career in
Ann has three children and four grandchildren spread out
through the UK in Crawley, Watford and Newcastle and she says, "they are
my most important priority. My husband and I work together in our own
small family business providing services mainly to the food industry."
She became involved in the community when a public notice
appeared in the local paper to extract coal by opencast on two farms about
half a mile along the road.
"I couldn't believe that anyone would want to rip up green
farmland for an opencast," she says, "my upbringing in the idyll of
Maybole with its surrounding fields and hills creating a very pleasant
vista didn't prepare me for what was to follow. We fought the application
right through a Public Inquiry but lost - when they started to rip up the
fields I had to use the other road to town. I couldn't stand seeing the
huge gaping holes in what had been green fields and the mountains of
ripped up soil and rock piled high enough to be seen for miles around .
It's not as if the village hadn't suffered enough there were already three
operational landfill sites, including the largest landfill in Europe, two
completed landfills and one of the largest opencast operations in the UK,
all to the south of the village. I started asking questions about how this
could happen in one small area, I talked to Local Authority Planning
officials, Scottish Executive officials, Politicians and Friends of the
Ann progressed to being one of the first group of students
in Europe to gain a Certificate of Higher Education in Environmental
Justice through Friends of the Earth and Queen Margaret University College
in Edinburgh. She wanted to be able get the voice of communities over to
those who make the decisions that result in planning injustices. And when
she got the opportunity to give evidence to one of the Scottish Parliament
Committees she had the knowledge and the confidence to give evidence that
resulted in changes to a Planning Policy.
Since then she has worked with Friends of the Earth and the
Scottish Executive on changes to the Planning System. She has made
presentations at conferences, given evidence to the Scottish Parliament
and lobbied Ministers while fighting other battles locally as a member of
the Community Council, including an application for yet another landfill.
Ann adds, "Our relationship with the largest landfill
operator has moved on and we now work together to reduce the impacts on
the local community. We are even working together on regeneration projects
that will benefit the area and return most of the land to green belt with
public access and recreation areas - but there is still a long way to go
She was delighted to be awarded an MBE and says she feels
very privileged to be a standard bearer for Environmental Justice and the
community of Greengairs.
She concludes, "The award gives credibility to the
Environmental Justice principles that each and every one of us is entitled
to a quality of life and that we have a responsibility for the legacy that
we leave to future
generations. It isn't just about hugging trees - it's about hugging people