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Borders Schools Benefit From Ms Eco-Boost Fiona Takes Up Ms

Thursday, 27 November 2008

As part of Marks & Spencer's (M&S) environmental partnership with Scottish Borders Council (SBC), a new dedicated environmental officer has been appointed to support schools in the area with their eco-journeys. 

Fiona Hanlin, who currently teaches at Walkerburn Primary School in Peeblesshire has been appointed as SBC's first ever Environmental Development Officer as part of a £35,000 investment from M&S. 

Fiona's main role is to support schools work towards achieving their bronze, silver or green flag eco-awards, whilst also supporting their participation in the new Scottish Borders M&S Eco-challenge. 

Fiona, who has a long-standing interest in environmental education and wildlife conservation completed a degree in Agriculture with Economics in 1992. She gained an MSc in Information Systems the following year and was awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Education at Moray House in 2007. 

She has eight years' experience as a Countryside Ranger in and around Edinburgh and East Lothian. During this time she designed and delivered curriculum-based activities and developed a range of environmental projects including wildlife surveys, habitat creation and community events.  

Fiona is excited about her new role: "My appointment as the Borders Environmental officer provides me with a great opportunity to combine my interests in both teaching and the environment.

"I really enjoy giving children the chance to experience nature for themselves. In a rural setting such as the Borders, there is a wealth of wildlife interest so there are plenty of exciting opportunities ahead for schools."

Fiona has a keen interest in farming and maintains this by occasionally helping out with lambing. This interest enabled her to help local farmers set up a branding scheme to promote local farm produce known as 'Pentland Hills Produce'.  She has also held the post of Coordinator for the European LEADER+ Rural Development Programme in mid and East Lothian. 

Fiona added: "I am really looking forward to helping schools try to achieve eco-award targets whilst also encouraging them to showcase some of their excellent work in the M&S Borders eco-challenge.  I think it's fantastic that schools have this opportunity to win some extra resources for their schools whilst being able to show what they've achieved to help the environment."  

Fiona who now lives in Lauder enjoys hill-walking with her husband and Bobby her Border Terrier.  She also enjoys travelling and recently completed a cycling trip across Borneo to raise money for SENSE - a charity which works to support deafblind children and their families.  Fiona also took part in a free fall parachute jump to raise funds for the charity.

Scottish Borders Council's Executive Member for Education, Councillor Catriona Bhatia added: "Pupils across the Borders will benefit from the extra support for Eco-Schools through this joint venture with M&S.  I know Fiona is very committed to promoting good environmental habits to children in all our schools."

For advice on any aspect of the Eco-Schools Programme or the Scottish Borders Schools Eco Challenge contact Fiona on 01896 662185 ext: 287 or email fiona.hanlin@scotborders.gov.uk.

Photo - Fiona Hanlin with pupil Euan Ramage from St Peters Primary School in Galashiels. 


Editor's Notes


  • Eco Schools is an international initiative designed to encourage whole-school action for the environment.
  • M&S, which opened its first 'green' store in Galashiels last year, has invested £35,000 in the Scottish Borders Schools Eco Challenge, which was launched last month. The initiative is designed to encourage school children to identify and present a project based around an environmental theme, with a focus on sustainable development.
  • All schools across the Borders are registered eco-schools - 24 have bronze level awards, 33 have silver and nine have gained their first green flags (the highest level award). Three out of these nine schools have gained their second green flags following re-assessment which schools must apply for every two years. For further information on the Eco Schools programme, visit www.eco-schools.org.uk/.
  • There are a total of 65 primary schools and nine secondary schools in the Scottish Borders region
  • M&S 'Simply Foods' Galashiels opened in October 2007 and incorporates the following features:
  • Use of up to 25 per cent less energy than an average Simply Food store through the installation of lobby areas to improve air tightness and minimise heat and energy loss, as well as more efficient lighting, refrigeration, heating and ventilation systems
  • Powered by green renewable energy, delivering a 95 per cent carbon dioxide saving
  • A number of water saving initiatives, including collecting rainwater and refrigeration condensation for use in dual flush toilets, and use self-closing taps resulting in savings of up to 15 per cent of a comparable M&S store's water consumption
  • Be the first M&S Simply Food store to eliminate potential leakage of harmful HFCs (Hydro Fluoro Carbons) by using fridges that operate on hydrocarbon and CO2 refrigerants
  • Use fridges fitted with guards to reduce cool air leakage which will save at least 4 per cent of the energy needed to operate each fridge
  • Use recycled and recyclable materials including recyclable plastic shelving
  • Use of BREEAM* A-rated materials with low or non-hazardous content and low energy processing within the specifications for ceilings and floor and wall coverings
  • Provide staff with 'eco-friendly' uniforms including a fleece made from recycled plastic bottles
  • During construction of the store, M&S and its suppliers have also recycled or re-used up to 80 per cent of waste and key construction off cuts