Our Eco-Angel Finalists -Celebrating our unsung heroes/heroines


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The Eco-Angel Award recognises ‘an individual, whose actions have conserved, nurtured or restored the Earth’s life forms, eco-systems, or natural resources’. These five finalists more than meet the selection criteria – their projects and approaches also have socio-economic benefits for now and for future generations.


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Cycling advocate Andrew Wheeldon assists the design of bicycle-friendly cities through government and private sector consulting, social events, education programs, workshops and conferences, and media campaigns.

Andrew Wheeldon

Bicycle Cities

Since 2000, Andrew has worked and planned for cycling cities by assisting strategic thinking around cycling infrastructure, design and implementation within cities.

With a belief that the bicycle provides low-cost mobility and access for all, with low environmental impact, he established the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN), where he served as Managing Director 2002-2014. As a director of Freedom Ride and Bicycle Cities, Andrew extends this role to national programs.

His work has overseen the importation and distribution of 15000 used bicycles from overseas, the establishment of 15 bicycle empowerment centres, the theoretical study around bicycle cities and he has coordinated local and national cycling workshops and conferences with government and the private sector.

This committed bicycling advocate has cycled more than the distance from earth to the moon (384,403 km). Having recorded his kilometres on bikes since 1984, Andrew used two-wheel transport to commute to school, work, meetings and socially with friends – and also trains and races competitively.


Andrew Wheeldon Photo

Cycling Advocate Andrew Wheeldon has cycled more than the distance from Earth to the moon!



Andrew campaigns for bicycle-friendly cities, such as Amsterdam.




In a race to save the African Penguin from extinction, Libby and a team of volunteers work tirelessly to keep penguins safe and sustain the marine environment for future generations.

Libby Sharwood


Libby Sharwood established The South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (SAMREC) in 2003 in response to increasing threats to the marine ecosystem around her home town of Port Elizabeth. Situated in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, the centre attracts local and overseas visitors.

She nurtures a team of volunteers that rescue marine animals. With St Croix Island in Algoa Bay listed as the world’s largest African Penguin breeding colony, she focuses on conserving and rehabilitating these endangered birds.

The SAMREC Sea School conducts public education and outreach programmes while Libby also organises regular beach clean-ups and encourages recycling.

Every effort is made to consider the environment during centre operations with non-toxic soaps used to clean oil-soaked birds and grease extracted from run-off water to prevent pollution.  

Libby has formed an effective coastal network that responds to marine animal strandings and rehabilitates birds for possible release back into their natural habitat.



Libby seeks to conserve the marine environment. Top of the list is the endangered African Penguin.


Libby and her team conduct environmental Awareness at the SAMREC centre. It attracts school groups, communities and overseas visitors.

Libby and her team conduct environmental Awareness at the SAMREC centre. It attracts school groups, communities and overseas visitors.

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Nicola Vernon inspires a lighter way of being that is necessary, life-affirming and available to all.

Nicola Vernon

Greyton Transition Town

Living in an off-the-grid straw bale home on her 40-hectare farm animal sanctuary, Nicola Vernon walks her talk as an environmental leader. She heads Greyton Transition Town (GTT) – South Africa’s only official Transition Town – bringing the community together to find local solutions to the global challenges of peak oil and climate change.

Nicola works to build a sustainable community, create meaningful employment and self-sufficiency, eradicate poverty and to conserve the outstanding natural beauty of the Overberg.

Her ethos embraces Mindfulness, which she uses to inspire young minds to think about the sort of world they want to live in. She encourages them to believe in themselves as future leaders and environmental activists. Already schools are seeing dramatic reductions in anti-social behaviour, bringing considerable benefits to the social fabric of the community.

As a veteran fund-raiser and charity worker, Nicola personally mentors five businesses run by historically disadvantaged people and cares for over thirty rescued farm animals and domestic pets on her farm.


Nicola Vernon



Nicola with Bella, one of her household residents



Nicola uses Mindfulness to inspire young minds to think about the sort of world they want to live in

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Susan’s Project Dignity provides reusable sanitary pads to thousands of young South African women.

Susan Barnes

 Project Dignity

Many of South Africa’s estimated 7 million female learners do not attend school regularly for a simple, often unspoken reason – they do not have access to sanitary pads.

When Susan Barnes realised this, she set up Project Dignity in partnership with Subz Pants and Pads. They have designed, developed and patented washable, reusable sanitary pads that are distributed to young women across the country.

Each Subz Pack contains three pairs of panties, nine washable pads, nine sealable bags – all in a neat drawstring bag. At hand-over events, her team educates young women on puberty, menstruation, personal hygiene, pregnancy prevention.  She believes that this educational is as vital as many of the youth come from child-headed households, with no adults to educate them on female health.

Not only is Susan helping young women to complete their education, but by advocating the use of re-usable sanitary pads, she is preventing millions of these items being sent to landfill or clogging up sewerage pits.



Susan Barnes works to provide young women with reusable sanitary pad kits


Reusable sanitary pads help the environment as replace disposable pads destined to clog up landfill and sewerage systems.


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Thabiso and Hlohla-o-lwane – The Movement are quietly revolutionizing the Free State town on Clocolan – one vegetable garden at a time.

Thabiso Nooe

Hlohla-o-lwane  The Movement

Thabiso and Hlohla-o-lwane – The Movement believe that starting small leads to large results. Working with communities in the small Free State town of Clocolan, he has introduced an ‘adopt a family’ system that shows all the values of Ubuntu, relying on a ripple effect to grow.

This ‘soil whisperer started by inspiring eight families to plant and nurture their own vegetable gardens for food security. These families then identified a further eight families in need of assistance. There are currently 60 families who have benefitted from the project.  This has helped them save money, eat healthy, nutritious meals and take positive action for their own futures. A key element of his work is highlighting ways in which to prevent soil erosion during summer rains.

Thabiso’s efforts have also resulted in employment for child and youth care workers will be identifying more families to work with.


Thabiso works with families to plant vegetable gardens



Sixty families currently benefit from the Hlohla-o-lwane – The Movement project