By Henri Brocklebank
Director of Conservation
The Celebration of Sussex Life Awards were held at The Grand Brighton this week on 25 October, and we were thrilled to see former Sussex Wildlife Trust CEO Dr Tony Whitbread presented with the 2018 Sussex Life Hero award. This award recognises someone who has made a difference to Sussex through their life, work or volunteering - and we couldn't think of a more deserving winner. Congratulations Tony!
This award is a fitting way to help thank Tony for 27 years of dedication. This July, Tony spent his last day of 27 years working for the Sussex Wildlife Trust. Ironically, Tony’s last day was spent at a meeting discussing the national revision of the Ancient Woodland Inventory. This is a full circle as it was the creation of the original Ancient Woodland Inventory in the early 1980s that brought Tony to Sussex in the first place!
Tony has steered the Wildlife Trust away from a nature reserve dominated focus to a wider Living Landscape perspective, and tackling not only the issues around the decline of wildlife in the Sussex landscape, but also the decline of people’s engagement with wildlife. He has upheld the ecological integrity of our organisation and made us all confident in the direction and impact of our work. He has inspired organisations, groups and decision makers across Sussex with his vision for all of these 27 years and Sussex is a richer place for his efforts. I recently travelled with Tony across East Sussex and as we drove through the landscape he pointed out endless sites and locations for campaigns he had worked on, wildlife he had fought for and damaging developments that he had helped stop. An incredible legacy.
As a proponent of natural processes, Tony will now be found re-wilding himself, away from the constraints of managing an organisation. I imagine that he is most relieved that there are no more meetings on health and safety or GDPR or HR issues. We expect him to fully immerse himself in deep ecological thought and relaxation. Tony is one of the best advocates for wildlife that I have ever met, and we hope we hear and see lots more of him in the future.
Photo of Sussex Life Hero Dr Tony Whitbread with Viviane Doussy by Graham Franks Photography