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New Year Honours 2021: BEMs: Two teenage sisters from Arnold among British Empire Medal award winners

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Two teenage sisters from Arnold who set up their own charity to protect the environment have been awarded British Empire Medals in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

The list, published every December 31, marks the achievements and service of ‘extraordinary people’ across the United Kingdom.

Being given the honour are Arnold sisters Amy Meek, 18, and her sister Ella Meek, 16, for their voluntary service to the natural environment.

They set up the charity Kids Against Plastic in February 2016 and have watched it grow while juggling school life and homework.

The pair say scenes of beaches and beauty spots swarming with discarded plastic prompted them to act when they were still children.

Both sisters were home-schooled by their parents for three years and travelled across Europe and the UK in a caravan, where they saw first-hand the problems blighting the planet.

Their campaign to protect the earth has seen 1,300 schools sign up to reduce their plastic use and delivering sessions on how to make a difference.

Amy and Ella Meek
Ella, left and Amy Meek (PHOTO: instagram/kidsagainstplastic

They have also collected more than 98,000 pieces of discarded plastic themselves and got the subject of plastic pollution raised in Parliament.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has since commissioned a national review by young people of environment and climate policy.

Amy Meek told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We have always had that love for nature and the environment.

“But when we spent this time travelling it shocked us. We would go to these beautiful beaches in France, and you would always see plastic pollution.

“When you are aware of it, it is really hard to ignore it. People were destroying the place they came to enjoy.

“It is about education. It is about engaging young people about these issues. When we are adults, you have bad habits, and it is hard to change that.

“But some adults have changed their attitudes because their kids come home and tell them about plastics.

“Plastic pollution is not going away. It is a persistent problem.”

Both are delighted with the award, but said it came as a massive surprise.

Amy added: “It is such an honour and a privilege at the age we are, but it is just a passion to protect the environment. We were not expecting recognition or any awards.”

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