By Henri Brocklebank
Director - Conservation Policy
How do you thank someone for 27 years of dedication? Last Friday Dr Tony Whitbread had 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 rewilding 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 emerge 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.