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Notable recognitions

Notable recognitions:

A brief overview of some of the many notable recognitions, along with key events, that are linked to the charitable work of The Papillon Project

Multi-award winning apprentice

In February 2024, Assistant Schools' Project Lead and apprentice Poppy Kirby was awarded the Horticulture, Landscape and Environmental Apprentice of the Year and runner up Apprentice of the Year with New Suffolk College and a highly commended Contribution to Green Apprenticeship in Norfolk by Apprenticeship Norfolk.

Poppy's awards

New Years Honour for Papillon Project founder:

The Papillon Project's founder, Matt Willer, was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (also known as the British Empire Medal or BEM) in the 2024 New Years Honours List.

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Credit: Newsquest

Please click here to read online newspaper article about Matt receiving this precious honour from His Majesty King Charles III.

BBC Gardeners' World Magazine podcast with Adam Frost

Papillon Project founder, Matt Willer, talks with BBC Gardeners' World presenter, Adam Frost, about gardening with young people and why it's so incredibly important! Please click here to listen to this podcast.

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Credit: BBC Gardeners' World Magazine

Positive News: 100 people and organisations bringing hope in 2020

At the very start of 2020 we were extremely humbled to been chosen by Positive News magazine as one of a hundred people & organisations bringing hope in 2020 and 'an inspiring project to feel optimistic about in the decade ahead.' We were chosen alongside environmental legends like Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough!

Positive News

Papillon Project awarded 'blue plaque'

In March 2023, the Lieutenancy of Norfolk awarded The Papillon Project with a blue plaque to recognise our work with young people during the pandemic. We worked with key worker and vulnerable children who still came to schools during the academic year 2019-20. Below is Papillon Project founder receiving this recognition by Dr Rose Barnes, Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk at City Academy Norwich along with link teacher Andy Gilbertson and Sapientia Education Trust CEO, Jonathan Taylor MBE.

Blue plaque (March 2023)

Credit: City Academy Norwich

Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘School Gardening Champion of the Year’ 

Before founding of The Papillon Project, Matt Willer himself won the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘School Gardening Champion of the Year’ national award in 2018

Matt has also published many articles about his experiences of creating The Allotment Project in leading magazines such as Permaculture, The Royal Horticultural Society’s The Garden, Norfolk Life, Norfolk Suffolk Life and the Waitrose Weekend magazine

image41 (Large)Above: Matt Willer being awarded Royal Horticultural Society's School Gardening Champion of the Year Award in 2018 by BBC Gardens' World  presenter Frances Tophill

Meeting the future King Charles III

Before founding The Papillon Project, Matt was personally invited to meet the former HRH The Prince of Wales (now His Majesty King Charles III) at the Sandringham Flower Show in July 2018 for his environmental work.

Norwich and Norfolk 'eco hero' award

In 2019, over 3000 people voted for Matt (the future founder of The Papillon Project) to become the county's 'eco hero' at the annual Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards

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Apprenticeship Norfolk - a case study

In the spring of 2023, The Papillon Project was chosen by Apprenticeship Norfolk to feature as a case study to promote apprenticeships in Norfolk a series of short films (please see below).

Royal Horticultural Society's School Gardeners of the Year awards judging panel

In 2023, Matt Willer, Papillon Project's founder and Schools' Project Lead, was invited by the Royal Horticultural Society to be on the judging panel for the national 'School Gardeners of the Year' awards alongside 'Green Fingered George', founder of Grow2now Tayshan Heydon-Smith and  BBC Gardeners' World presenter Frances Tophill. Please click here to learn more.

RHS Judges

Other notable events and recognitions...

We are incredibly proud to have the support of some high profile organisations and figures including David Holmgren, the co-originator of the permaculture concept and charity Patron, who recorded this message for us ahead of our official launch in November 2019.

The 'accidental pilot' project that inspired the founding of The Papillon Project

Between 2017-2019, and before The Papillon Project was official formed, 'The Allotment Project' at Reepham High School and College started to gain some serious attention and recognition; from winning at the Norwich and Norfolk Eco Awards for best ‘eco-secondary school’ in the county in 2017-18, and again in 2018-19, to subsequently appearing on regional (Anglia News and BBC Look East) and live national television (BBC Breakfast). It was the success of 'The Allotment Project' at Reepham High School & College that, as an 'accidental pilot' project, directly inspired the founding of The Papillon Project as a regional charitable organisation.

46 mile barefooted walk!

In July/August of 2021, charity founder, Matt Willer, walked the entire length of The Peddars Way (46 miles) from Thetford to Holme-next-the-Sea in two days and all totally barefoot! He raised over £10,000 for the charity. Please click here to read more.


The 'Pap Leeky' Expedition

In August 2023, a team of volunteers came together to paddle an improvised and upcycled raft ('Pap Leeky') 27 miles (43.5 kilometres) from Norwich to Great Yarmouth over four days (August 17th-20th). The goal of 'Pap Leeky' was to help raise funds, highlight the arrival of The Papillon Project coming to support schools in Great Yarmouth come September 2023 and to also help draw greater awareness of sea level rise due to climate change and sustainable water usage too. It was huge logistical challenge involving sound team work from start to finish. Over £5500 was raised via JustGiving (please click here).


GY Mercury

Above: Great Yarmouth Mercury, August 2023


Above: Pap Leeky crossing Breydon Water outside of Great Yarmouth, August 20th 2023


Above: Some of the many people from The Papillon Project who made Pap Leeky possible.

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