Marsh Award for Outstanding Contribution to Wetland Conservation

This Award is run in association with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and recognises an individual who has achieved something amazing for wetlands in recent times.

Volunteers from around the UK work to protect and transform wetland areas, leading to the conservation of wildlife and the creation of spaces to be enjoyed by the local people. Ranging from community wetlands to wetlands in people’s back gardens, each year this Award supports the people who have been the driving force behind these projects.

Nominations for the Award are put forward to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and judged in partnership with the MCT. See here for more information on how to nominate.

Pictured: Colin Gray (2018 winner), picture by Cathy Holden.

Norman Ridley 2022

Norman has been a volunteer for WWT since 1974 and has welcomed and inspired over one and a half million visitors at the welcome desk at Welney during his 58 years as a volunteer. He greets everyone with a warm and friendly welcome and has inspired visitors to want to know more about wetlands and wildlife thanks to his natural passion and enthusiasm. Norman has been a key volunteer during swan catches at Welney for many years, enduring many cold damp days to help staff gain key data for research. He is a positive role model and a vital ambassador for WWT, making sure that visitors have all the information they need and answering any questions that they might have. He is always punctual and, for a man in his 90s, he has a strong get up and go attitude which inspires all who encounter him. Norman has trained other volunteers and inspired families and young children to become passionate about wetland wildlife.

Previous Winners

David Cowmeadow

David has been a volunteer at the London Wetland Centre since 2004 and works largely with corporate volunteers, acting as an ambassador for WWT’s wider conservation work. He uses his platform to spread the word about how crucial wetlands are to both people and wildlife, and how individuals can make a difference to wetland conservation. David works both to maintain and improve the presentation of exhibits at the centre and carries out labour intensive work to improve habitats for wildlife on site. In 2019, David worked with around 900 corporate volunteers which brought in much needed revenue for WWT, as well as helped to spread the message of the importance of wetland conservation. He is a strong advocate of the importance of wetlands for bat populations and have supported the organisation and delivery of bat walks, helping to both attract core audiences and bring in new visitors to the London Wetland Centre. David gives over 250 hours to his volunteering each year and receives positive feedback from everyone he comes into contact with. 


Highly Commended: David Walsh

Mary Colwell

Mary is a producer and writer, interested in all aspects of the natural world, especially the complex and shifting interface between wildlife and society. She has been the energy behind curlew recovery rates across the UK, and is an established campaigner for a better future for the species. It is unusual for an individual to create so much public interest in the plight of a threatened species!

Mary has brought the plight of the Eurasian Curlew to the public’s eye and her book, Curlew Moon, is a wonderful inspiration for action. Without her dedication and energy, it is unlikely that the Eurasian curlew would have reached the agenda of politicians and other key decision-makers for this species.

Mary’s interventions for this species led to a meeting on their conservation at Number 10, which was attended by key politicians and conservationists from across the UK. She has managed to bring disparate people together, thanks to her passionate and persuasive manner, to establish a focus on the plight of the Eurasian  Curlew and its wetland habitats.

Colin Gray

Fleet Pond Nature Reserve is Hampshire’s largest freshwater lake and is also an SSSI. A few years ago, the Pond began to be affected by silt washed down from nearby military land which caused the lake to become shallow and the water to become cloudy. This was threatening to the future of the reserve as plants and wildlife began to die and the local ecosystem began to decay.

Colin was the mastermind behind the Clearwater Campaign which highlighted these issues and found the solutions and funding to help restore the pond. He brought together the local Council, the MoD, the Environment Agency and Natural England and persuaded University College London to generate the scientific evidence needed. FPS Patron Chris Packham generously agreed to star in a video to highlight the issues and launch the campaign.

The campaign raised thousands within the year and thanks to the scientific evidence that Colin helped generate, the Environment Agency and Natural England were able to access hundreds of thousands of pounds of government funding. The lake has now started to clear, and wildlife has begun to return, with substantial numbers of birds and insects starting to be seen again. None of this would have been possible without Colin’s determination.