The John Spedan Lewis Emerging Leader Award for the UK Natural Environment

John Spedan Medal detail

The John Spedan Lewis Foundation (JSLF) is a UK nature charity. The Foundation was created in 1964 in honour of the founder of the John Lewis Partnership, who had a keen interest in UK nature and natural history.

Nominations are now closed. Sign up to our newsletter, Linnean News, for updates on events, grants, awards and news from the Linnean Society of London.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Nominees must have led an initiative with notable positive impact for the UK natural environment*
  • Nominees must be based in the UK, but need not be UK nationals; applications are welcomed from all nationalities
  • The work of nominees must take place in the UK[1]
  • Nominees must be within the first 10 years of their engagement with the UK natural environment. This period does not need to be continuous and should allow for career breaks.
  • Nominees can be professional or non-professional
  • Nominees should have a strong track record of engaging the public in their work, including under-served communities such as minority ethnic or low-income backgrounds, or those who are differently abled
  • There is no age restriction (no upper or lower limit) for nominees**

*For the purposes of the Award, UK natural environment includes activities like:

  • Climate and environmental activism and campaigning
  • Natural history (i.e. the study of wild plants and animals)
  • Nature conservation research
  • Nature conservation practical interventions (e.g. habitat improvement)

Judging criteria:

  • Nominators should provide evidence of change that has taken place as a consequence of the intervention of the candidate (for example evidence of: policy change, positive change in the natural environment, change of attitude of a community towards an environmental issue).
  • Impact should be at regional (city/ county) or national level
  • Impact should be long-lasting (i.e. greater than one year)

An additional criterion for the first year of the new Award only:
Nominations cannot be accepted from Action for Conservation staff or members in 2023 (Year 1 of the revised Award), due to AfC's participation in revising the Award. This will be lifted in 2024 and subsequent years.

**Age of nominees (safeguarding):
The application form will require contact details for the parent or guardian of nominees under the age of 18.

Each year the closing date for nominations is 30 September.

Neither nominators nor nominees are required to be Fellows of the Linnean Society.

History of the Award:

The original JSLF Medal was created in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Foundation. In 2022 the JSLF Trustees are excited to launch a new version of the medal that celebrates emerging leaders in the UK natural environment.

[1] The JSLF is a UK nature charity. The focus of the award is the UK environment, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Kwesia (City Girl in Nature)
Photo credit: Mysterex

Kwesia (City Girl in Nature), John Spedan Lewis Emerging Leader Award for the UK Natural Environment 2023

Growing up in inner-city London, Kwesia underwent many challenges, including homelessness. A British Exploring Society expedition to the Peruvian Amazon allowed her to encounter nature in a way that presented positive opportunities, forming bonds with fellow nature enthusiasts. As a result, Kwesia developed ‘City Girl in Nature’, and became a ‘nature connection activist’, establishing a YouTube channel, website and social media presence to help others from her community connect with the natural world.

This new Award (John Spedan Lewis Emerging Leader Award for the UK Natural Environment) replaces the JSLF Medal, which was formerly granted to —

  • John Burton (2019)
  • Marcella Corcoran (2018)
  • Lynn Dicks (2017)
  • Edgar Turner (2016)
  • Mercy Morris (2015)