East Anglian Squirrel Breeding Expert Nominated in National Awards
A new national award scheme recognising the achievements of the many volunteers who give up their time for the conservation of our much loved red squirrels, has received an enthusiastic response in its first year, with the a leading nomination coming from East Anglia. The scheme, which is being run by the Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST,) has been designed to reward the vast army of volunteers working tirelessly around the country to preserve the native red squirrel.
“There are an estimated 3,000 volunteers involved in red squirrel conservation across the UK. It is largely thanks to the dedicated efforts of these people that the fight to save the red squirrel from extinction is now in a position to succeed” said Miles Barne Chairman of RSST. RSST Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales has called volunteers ‘the backbone of red squirrel conservation’ and is known to be a keen supporter of the new awards.
Among the nominations is David Stapleford from Fakenham who, after more than 40 years working with red squirrels, is a contender for the Lifetime Achievement award. Having spent many years breeding red squirrels in an enclosure in his back garden, in more recent years he has teamed up with Bill and Debbie Jordan of Jordans cereals and owners of the Pensthorpe Nature Reserve near Fakenham in Norfolk to continue this work. More recently he has also taken on the role of adviser to the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) which launched its red squirrel breeding programme at its Mayfields smallholding at Themelthorpe, in Norfolk earlier this year.
“Volunteers have been the backbone of much of the conservation work carried out on red squirrels and their decline over many years, be it fund raising, recording sightings and other data, trapping greys, feeding, or group administration and recruitment. Without all their efforts, all might well be lost. They are generally a modest group, and these awards are our way of offering some form of recognition and thanks for all their hard work. We are delighted with the response we have received and look forward to announcing the winners in March,” added Mr Barne.
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Notes for Editors
About the Red Squirrel Survival Trust
The Red Squirrel Survival Trust (RSST) is a UK charity established to ensure the conservation and protection of the red squirrel in the UK. Its Patron is HRH The Prince of Wales and its ambassadors are Alan Titchmarsh, Sir Chris Bonington and Eric Robson.
RSST works in partnership with dedicated and knowledgeable local groups around the country. It aims to protect red squirrels by keeping reds and greys apart, stabilising new and existing populations, funding research to secure the red squirrel’s long-term future and raising awareness of the plight of the red squirrel.
About red squirrels
Around 75% of the 120,000 red squirrels remaining in the UK are found in Scotland. In England, reds can still be found in Cumbria, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Merseyside and the Isle of Wight.
Reds died out many years ago from their former southern strongholds of Thetford Forest in Norfolk and Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. However, a project aiming to reintroduce the species to Cornwall is underway which hopes to bring red squirrels back to southern England in the next five years.
For more information about RSST, visit www.rsst.org.uk.