In October, we received the delightful news that two of our staff had been given prestigious awards.  I thought I should put a spotlight on their success to celebrate their achievements and to say how lucky I am to call them my colleagues.

Both were winners of a Marsh Award promoted by two different partners.

Dr Juliet Vickery, our Head of International Research, received the Marsh Award for Ornithology from the BTO at a ceremony at a Society of Wildlife Artists event at the Mall Galleries in London last week. It is a very fitting venue, as the award recipients and audience are surrounded by the most wonderful wildlife art.   

Juliet’s research career started with her PhD on the impacts of acid rain on dipper populations, from where she went on to work at the University of Edinburgh, SNH, BTO and – for the last decade  – the RSPB. Juliet is perhaps best known for her work on declining farmland birds and migrants, working on the former mostly while at the BTO, and on the latter at the RSPB. Juliet is a passionate advocate for conservation and the science that underpins it, and her infectious enthusiasm has inspired numerous students and colleagues to strive to find solutions to solve the current global biodiversity crisis.

During her career she has published more than 100 scientific papers and book chapters. Juliet is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, a member of the Darwin Expert Committee, Chair of the British Ecological Society’s Policy Committee, and Vice-President and  is proposed as President of the British Ornithologists’ Union. Astonishingly, she is also a world-class veteran triathlete – though perhaps I shouldn’t mention the ‘veteran’ bit! Juliet makes an enormous contribution to the RSPB, to conservation and to ornithology – her drive and energy leave most of us – especially me – trailing in her wake.

Juliet (shown in her natural habitat below) is not the first RSPB staff member to win this award as Jerry Wilson, our Head of Conservation Science in Scotland was awarded it in 2012. You can find out more about Juliet and this Marsh Award here

A second award was given earlier in the month when RSPB reserve manager Mark Smart was presented the Marsh Award for Wetland Conservation Achievement by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and there really couldn’t be a more deserving recipient. Over 17 years Mark has worked on a truly landscape scale to make the wet grasslands of The Broads the best habitats they can be for wildlife. The RSPB is just one of several landowners on Halvergate Marshes – the second largest grazing marsh in the UK (after the Somerset Levels) and home to RSPB Berney Marshes and Breydon Water nature reserve. Mark’s success at bringing together landowners, conservationists, local authorities and scientists has enabled The RSPB to deliver habitat management for wildlife well beyond the boundaries of the reserve he manages, helping make this one of the most important lowland wet grasslands in Europe. Berney Marshes alone can boast 300 pairs of nesting waders and 100,000 plus wintering ducks and geese!

Mark (shown on the left above, receiving his award from Peter Titley from the Marsh Christian Trust and Martin Spray from WWT) was surprised on learning he’d won an award and, characteristically modest, he was at pains to share the credit with all the people he has worked with over the years, but his ability to work with others and get a whole range of people on board with managing the landscape for nature has been the key. That really is the essence of landscape scale conservation, and exactly what we are setting out to do as an organisation in order to achieve our goal of saving nature.

I know just how great our staff are, but it is lovely when external validation is given in the form of an award.  Many congratulations to Juliet and Mark.