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Curlew conservationist wins Bellamy Award

The prestigious NGO Educational Trust Bellamy Award has been won by the renowned curlew conservationist Mary Colwell. The trophy was presented to Mary Colwell by NGO ET trustee Simon Lester at the Curlew Festival, held recently at Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire.

The NGO Educational Trust’s Bellamy Award was launched in 2010 to recognise those who display exceptional creativity and initiative in promoting the gamekeeper’s role in sustainable countryside management.

Mary Colwell is a well-known TV producer of nature documentaries and is a passionate advocate of curlew conservation, having been involved in World Curlew Day as well as many successful curlew conferences in England, Wales and Scotland.

She said, “I am truly delighted to receive the Bellamy Award in recognition of my passion and actions to try and protect this wonderful species for future generations.

“However, I have now come to the conclusion that if we are to tackle our reputation as one of the most nature-depleted countries on earth, we need both widespread habitat restoration and a civilised debate on the role of predator control.”

Brian Hayes, the NGO Educational Trust’s Administrator said, “You could not have a more worthy winner than Mary Colwell. Mary was chosen to receive this award for her work in highlighting the national plight of the much loved but seriously endangered curlew. Her approach to hopefully rescue the curlew from the brink of extinction in parts of the country highlights the need for responsible predator control as carried out by gamekeepers as well as their expertise in habitat management. At last someone has had the courage to stand up and state, what is an uncomfortable truth for some organisations, that sometimes if we wish to preserve endangered species such as the curlew and lapwing, predators have to be controlled during the vulnerable breeding season.”

Mary’s commitment to secure the future of threatened curlew populations also resulted in her latest book ‘Curlew Moon’, which chronicles a 500 mile walk from the west of Ireland to the east coast of England to raise awareness of the bird’s plight and records her visits to nesting grounds and the people she met along the way.

Mary Colwell says, “The “official” estimate for the number of breeding Curlew is 68,000 pairs in the UK, but personally, I think it is half that number - and they are failing each year. Ireland has already lost 97%, Wales 80% and England over 50%. It is a travesty that we are losing this enigmatic bird and it beholds all of us to help this extraordinary species for future generations in any way we can.”

The trophy is made from a piece of bog oak, which is many thousands of years old. It was presented to the NGO Educational Trust by conservationist (and NGO Patron) Professor David Bellamy, to symbolise the enduring nature of mankind’s relationship with the living landscape.

Brian Hayes said, “As well as the trophy Mary also received a cheque for £250, which goes some way towards recognising, encouraging and rewarding her efforts. The NGO Educational Trust’s principal aim is to promote awareness of the need for sustainable wildlife management in the countryside, while stressing the importance of the role of the conservation work carried out by gamekeepers.

“It is heartening that a well-regarded conservationist such as Mary takes a very pragmatic view of conservation and recognises that to save her beloved curlew, we have to utilise every trick in the book and the role of gamekeepers with their in-depth knowledge of the countryside is vital to help achieve this aim.”


Posted: 25 Jun 2018


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