National Operator Interviews: Ruth Van Ry


Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Northern Ireland


  • City where the organisation is based: Belfast
  • Number of staff in the organisation/working with Eco-Schools: 12/2


What do you prefer?

  • Dogs or cats? Dogs
  • Sea or mountains? Mountains
  • Chocolate or chips? Chocolate
  • Film or book? Book
  • City or countryside? Countryside
  • Favourite word or phrase: ‘It’ll be great!!’
  • If you could sing one song in a music competition show on television, what would it be?

Queen “Don’t stop me now”

  • What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

My dog is still quite young. We rescued her in September and it’s been great to watch her confidence grow. She makes me laugh everyday with her crazy antics. 


A high point of the programme, hopes and visions

Meeting so many inspiring teachers, young people and environmental enthusiasts makes every day a high point. We held a great 20th Anniversary Event in 2015 and the NOM in the same year! A bit crazy but very rewarding. I look forward to watching the programme help schools and influence young people to create a brighter, greener future for all. I would love to see every school in Northern Ireland with a Green Flag!  


Activities by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

We run cluster group meetings, projects and competitions throughout the year as well as developing new teaching resources. In the last few years we have been lucky to receive funding to host a few big events. This year we have funding to provide a Teacher Eco Leadership course with Queen’s University Belfast and a Teacher’s Conference which we are really looking forward to in March.  


An inspiring story by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

It is so difficult to choose only one case story so I will cheekily mention two schools.

Fairview Primary worked on a Rethink Waste project with us in 2013 and now send none of their waste to landfill after carefully reviewing their recycling options. They audit their waste every year and are trying to reduce and recycle as much as possible in all areas.

Ballycraigy Primary have blazed a trail in outdoor learning and raised huge amounts of money over the last four to five years to develop their school grounds into a wonderful space for growing food, keeping hens, exploring wildlife woodlands, keeping fit and inviting wildlife to take up residence. They have in the process transformed the way the school is viewed and used by the community who now regularly help in the garden and classroom. The school has become a real community hub.

These two schools have won many awards and accolades over the years including becoming Ambassador Eco-Schools. I was delighted to discover this year that the two Eco-Coordinators from each school are now working together, with the support of the Primary Science Teaching Trust, to develop a resource specifically looking at how the Eco-Schools programme supports primary science and vice-versa. Teachers and schools like these two truly inspire me to deliver and develop the Eco-Schools programme in the best way possible to facilitate similar successes for other schools.