A MELROSE teacher has won this year's Tweed Forum River Champion Award.

Tom Rawson, who works at St Mary's School, has been handed the accolade for his campaign to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

Now in its fourth year, the gong rewards an individual from the Borders or North Northumberland who has an outstanding commitment to the protection and enhancement of the River Tweed and its surroundings.

Tom helped make St Mary’s Scotland’s first plastic free school and was behind the school’s recent 7Towns1River project – which saw 196 people take part in a synchronised clean-up.

More than 2.2 tonnes of litter was collected by volunteers in Peebles, Cardrona, Galashiels, Melrose, St Boswells, Kelso, Coldstream and Berwick-Upon-Tweed as part of the initiative.

Tom said: "I am passionate about educating, enthusing and empowering the region’s children to be the future guardians of our environment.

"I want them to feel that their efforts can and do have a positive and significant impact.

"The clean-up events that St Mary’s School has organised are a real team-effort with children and adults from all over the Borders coming together to make a difference.

"Plastic pollution is very much a product of our lifestyles but we are also the solution to this local and global issue.

"I am delighted that my efforts, those of the staff and pupils at St Mary’s School, Melrose and of school children across the Borders have been recognised in this way."

Tom is also currently organising the Great Borders River Clean.

This will take place on Sunday, October 27 across the region.

James Hepburne Scott, Tweed Forum Chairman, said: "Apart from being an eyesore, plastic pollution in our rivers causes serious harm, often killing wildlife and breaking down and entering the food chain where the effects of ingestion are still not fully understood.

"As rivers are ultimately bound for the sea, this then becomes a huge global problem.

"Tom’s work in raising awareness of the issue and in galvanising young and old alike across the Scottish Borders into taking practical steps to make a difference is hugely important.

"Through this Tweed Forum River Champion Award, we want to recognise and thank him for his vital contribution in the fight against the harm caused by plastic pollution in the River Tweed and beyond."

Previous winners of the award include Frank Turnbull from Coldstream; Jim Sinclair from Galashiels; and Eric Hastings from Drygrange.