SAS founder awarded MBE for services to the environment.
Chris Hines, winner of the TSP Green Wave Award (2006) and one of the UK’s most inspiring environmentalists, has been awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II. The news was announced pblicly on the day he was to marry fiancé, Sara Ekins, “making the happiest day of my life even happier,” he said.
Hines is best known as one of the founders of Surfers Against Sewage and more recently for his work with the Eden Project, a center for sustainable development and innovation in Cornwall. MBE stands for Member of the British Empire, a title which sits just a few of rungs below a knighthood and is traditionally granted to citizens who have distinguished themselves with positive contributions to society.
“I think I’m actually the first surfer to get one of these awards,” said the 46-year-old regular-foot, who in recent years brought us the ‘eco-surfboard’ – the nearest thing to an environmentally friendly surfboard since ancient Hawaiians rode wooden alaias.
When Hines and his comrades in St Agnes, Cornwall, started SAS in 1990 they were dark times of corporate greed and environmental negligence. The beaches were in a considerably worst state than they are today. Raw sewage was pumped into the ocean just offshore and gastro-intestinal problems were a regular occurrence among surfers and swimmers. There was a dire need for action and SAS was the first group to challenge the authorities and newly privatized water companies, insisting that they had a responsibility to both the people and the environment. Their high visibility campaigning made people all over the country sit up and take notice and gave a much needed voice to all UK sea-goers, eventually leading to a total of £5 billion being spent on improving the polluted state of the UK coastline. Some 18 years later SAS still continues to fight against related environmental problems, though in 2000 Hines moved on to new pastures.
From 2001-2007, Chris was the sustainability director at the Eden Project, again leading the charge for the visionary project to become “waste neutral”. As well as this, he has also been the Special Advisor to many government committees (including directly to the Secretary of State for the Environment) and continues to play the role of activist, campaigner and consultant.
For Hines’ commitment to the cause to be recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list is definitely a big deal, and fully deserved. Everyone from the St. Agnes (and wider) area is stoked on this achievement and know that there are many years of dedication to come (arise, Sir Chris?!). He has proved an inspiration to a wide range of people, showing what is achievable through direct action and effecting change.
On receiving the award Chris said ‘I am delighted and honoured. It was a double celebration as it was on the same day as our wedding. I actually found out whilst on my stag weekend surf trip to Ireland. It was great catching some small clean waves and reflecting on the importance and impact of all that work. It’s great news for the environment, the oceans and for surfing. My thanks to all who have ever supported SAS and to the staff at the Eden Project.”
Chris lives near Porthtowan where he surfs his eco board whenever he can. He can be contacted through his website www.chrishines.org / email email@example.com
ALL PHOTOS BY ANDY HUGHES