Bill Bryson and Polartec win Outdoor Writers' awards

Best-selling author and environmental campaigner Bill Bryson has won the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild’s (OWPG) prestigious Golden Eagle Award for his campaigning work to protect the British countryside from litterlouts, fly tipping and other threats. The Guild has also voted Polartec’s Neoshell as the outstanding product innovation for the outdoors in the last 12 months.

The annual Golden Eagle award is presented to “a person who has rendered distinguished or meritorious service to the outdoors generally”.

Although born in Iowa in the United States, Bill Bryson is passionate about the British countryside and has been described as “the world’s No 1 Anglophile”. He has made his home in rural Norfolk, after many years living at Kirkby Malham in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Bill is an ardent campaigner for the UK environment and since 2007 has been president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). In this role he has spearheaded the ‘Stop the Drop’ anti-litter and fly-tipping campaign, which has gained the support of Keep Britain Tidy and the Local Government Association.

OWPG President Roly Smith commented: “Although Bill is perhaps best-known as a very funny travel writer, I don’t know anyone who is more in love with the British countryside, and who campaigns more vigorously to protect it. He is a very worthy recipient of our Golden Eagle Award, and I am delighted that he is our 2011 winner.”

The OWPG also makes an annual award, the Derryck Draper Award, to the best new outdoor product. This year’s panel of outdoor experts included Chris Townsend, gear tester for TGO magazine, Graham Thompson, and Judy Armstrong.

Chris Townsend described Neoshell as, “the most breathable membrane I’ve ever tried”. Roly Smith said,”This year the panel of judges were unanimous in their decision… Most membranes work because the heat and moisture inside creates pressure that then tries to force its way out, but the new Polartec Neoshell works slightly differently, allowing the air outside to ‘pull’ the moisture out. It was this innovative approach – and, of course, the resulting end product – that so impressed the judges.”

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