Dr Tony Whitbread announces his retirement

07 March 2018 | Posted in SWT News
Dr Tony Whitbread announces his retirement
Dr Tony Whitbread © Miles Davies

He joined the Sussex Wildlife Trust in 1991 as Head of Conservation and took on the role of CEO twelve years ago. During this time, Dr Whitbread has played a huge role in seeing the Trust’s membership double to 30,000. Members have seen him as a conservation advocate, battling against road building, urban development, the potential expansion of Gatwick Airport and other countryside loss.

He was at the forefront in promoting the need for the establishment of the South Downs National Park – a designation realised in 2011.He also played a leading role in establishing the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, which holds almost seven million species records – information used to inform planning decisions. This led to the highly popular Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar and county wildlife site surveys.

Alongside his role as CEO for Sussex Wildlife Trust, Dr Whitbread is the national spokesman for woodland issues for The Wildlife Trusts and is remembered by many for his insight into The Great Storm of 1987 when he presented the positive ecological stories for this memorable event. Until recently, he has also acted as a Trustee of The Wildlife Trusts, advising on national conservation issues.

Dr Whitbread said, ‘In 1997, The Vision for the Wildlife of Sussex was published – a document I instigated to drive positive nature conservation action for the coming 20 years. This was replaced recently with our Vision for Nature and Wellbeing in Sussex, which re-energises our commitment to deliver a living landscape and living seas, ensuring people are inspired by, connected to and value nature.

‘During my years at Sussex Wildlife Trust, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most dedicated and talented staff as well as our Trustees and fantastic volunteers who give their time freely to ensure our continuing success in all aspects of our work.’

Mrs Carole Nicholson, Chairman of Trustees at the Sussex Wildlife Trust said, ‘Tony has been instrumental in developing the Sussex Wildlife Trust to be one of the UK’s leading conservation and wildlife organisations, managing 32 nature reserves across the whole of Sussex.

‘We are indebted to Tony for his role in conserving the habitats and wildlife of Sussex and connecting the people of Sussex with nature. The support that we have enjoyed from our members and partners is in no small part a reflection of Tony’s infectious enthusiasm and leadership style.Tony leaves a firm foundation and strong legacy for the future success of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.’


  • Ann Stewart:

    20 Mar 2018 19:59:54

    I am so sorry to hear that Dr Whitbread is retiring, although he himself may be rather pleased. He recently gave up his time to talk to supporters of Markwells Wood Watch. His expertise, passion and his humour made for a very interesting and enjoyable evening. We at Markwells Wood are grateful for all he has done for our campaign, but also for his dedication to local biodiversity. We hope he has a really enjoyable retirement.

  • Charlie Burrell:

    29 Mar 2018 11:12:22

    Tony has been an inspiration and a guiding light in all that we have done at Knepp. Very luckily he is not going anywhere and we can all look forward to years of further insightful ideas that come out of the brain of his.

  • ruth tansey:

    29 Mar 2018 11:39:28

    Many thanks to Dr, Whitbread for all his hard work. I hope he enjoys his retirement.

  • Rosemary Marshall:

    29 Mar 2018 13:03:11

    Well done Dr Whitbread, we are indebted to you for all your hard work and diligent pursuance of the dream of a better Sussex. I am sure you will still be active in this regard, although the ‘day job’ will be the province of someone else.

  • 29 Mar 2018 13:33:27

    I am so sorry to hear that Tony is retiring, but this is fantastic news for him & I wish him a long and happy retirement. I first met Tony over 20 years ago and have had the pleasure of working with him on and off for many years. I have always been amazed at how he approaches his work with such passion, incredible knowledge and enthusiasm. Definitely always a leading light and someone who has both influenced and inspired my own career. Enjoy your retirement Tony!

  • Mike Croker:

    29 Mar 2018 13:45:57

    Perhaps the electric bicycle project will see fruition?
    Enjoy the new opportunities.

  • Thurstan Crockett:

    29 Mar 2018 18:14:16

    From the start of my work with the Wildlife Trusts in 1990, Tony was there – a quiet, articulate, authorative and friendly force. He was the same when I moved to Sussex in 2001 and inspired me with his vision and passion too. Bless you Tony – you deserve some time off!

  • Alan Beecher:

    30 Mar 2018 10:20:31

    As a retiree of 25 years standing I am sure that Dr. Whitehead will welcome his retirement as I am sure that he will not retire but keep[ fully active in all his interests. My wife and I than k him for all that he has done for the Trust and for the pleasure that he has given us at the talks that he has given.

  • Teresa Fowler:

    31 Mar 2018 14:24:49

    I wish Tony a long, healthy and happy retirement, after all his years of great service to the Trust and Sussex wildlife.

  • 31 Mar 2018 17:59:09

    A sad day for the Trust but a well-deserved retirement for Tony Whitbread. The Friends of Hollingbury & Burstead Woods was set up with help from the Trust back in 1991 and is still going strong thanks to the support from Tony Whitbread and the Trust. Enjoy your retirement Tony.

  • Elizabeth Hindson:

    01 Apr 2018 08:23:27

    Thank you for leaving such a wonderful Legacy for the people of Sussex to enjoy. Enjoy your retirement.

  • Phillip Ellis:

    02 Apr 2018 10:42:43

    Having known Tony for over 20 years he has certainly raised the profile of wildlife in the county. I am very disappointed in his comments on road building as we need better roads. one assumes Tony will be only using his feet and bicycle from now on to travel from his Storrington home.

  • Joyce Edmond-Smith:

    02 Apr 2018 16:36:30

    As a then Local Councillor I encountered Tony Whitbread in the 1990’s when I was engaged in efforts to bring environmental sustainability into the Council’s policy framework. Over the years Tony was an inspiration, a guide and an untiring champion for our wildlife. We owe him much for caring for our wonderful Sussex nature. Enjoy your retirement Tony I know you will continue your commitment in other ways .

  • Philip Maber:

    30 Apr 2018 21:05:42

    Hi Tony,
    We last met at your talk to Markwells Wood Watch, THANK YOU.
    You may remember my name from c1995 when you gave written evidence against me at a Public Inquiry at County Hall.
    Hope you (and anyone else reading this) can make the Chichester Launch of SCATE New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast next Friday 4th May at 2 pm at the Bassil Shippam Centre, Tozer Way, Chichester. You can get your free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/new-transport-vision-for-the-south-coast-tickets-44937449120

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