Marsh Lepidoptera Award for Lifetime Achievement

This Award is run in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and recognises an individual who has shown long-term, exceptional commitment to lepidoptera conservation, either in a professional or voluntary capacity.

Nominations are submitted via Butterfly Conservation’s local branches and are judged by a panel of experts from the field.


Nigel Spring 2022

Nigel taught environmental studies for 17 years and helped to set up and run The Kingcombe Centre in Dorset, a wildlife education centre. His courses included visiting key sites, running the moth trap every night and reinforcing identification skills. The reserves of Kingcombe are now recognised as a National Nature Reserve due to his work. Nigel is a director of two Community Interest Companies (CICs) and enthuses a wide cross-section of participants, including young people, to manage a diverse range of wildlife sites. Nigel always leads from the front and makes sure the whole team know what to do. More recently, he has become a director of the Portland CIC to ensure the ex-Butterfly reserves of Perryfields and Broadcroft continue their conservation management. Nigel has organised the successful ‘Village’ project in Dorset for several years to encourage people of all ages to look for butterflies, give talks about butterfly recording and organise activities to encourage the recording of butterflies. Nigel is also Reserve Manager for the Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation, initiating work programmes and organising volunteers. Due to his planning and foresight, leadership and intelligence over several decades, the number and variety of species on the site has grown. For the last few years Nigel has also taken on the role of Branch Chair and has used this post to energise the branch in conservation projects and transect recording in the county. His enthusiasm and knowledge for wildlife knows no bounds and he has the ability to inspire all.

Previous Winners

Robert J. Heckford (Bob)

Bob is Britain’s foremost micro-lepidopterist, having added enormously to scientific knowledge which has often led to conservation measures. He has added 16 species to the British butterfly list including Ectoedemia heckfordi, which he found new to science. He has also had a Spanish moth, Bryotropha heckfordi, named after him and a fly, Phytomyza heckfordi, which he reared new to Science.

Bob wrote part of volume 4 of ‘The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland’ and was a joint editor of ‘Checklist of the Lepidoptera of the British Isles 2013’. He has published over 230 notes and papers in entomological journals. These journals contain a mine of information about many aspects of Lepidoptera including descriptions and habits of larvae of many species previously unknown in Britain or Europe.

Bob has worked closely with Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust to conserve Infurcitinea albicomella and Coleophora linosyridella, he also worked with the National Trust and BC to conserve Syncopacma suecicella and S. vinella.

One of Bobs many great achievements was when he rediscovered the moth species, Plutella haasi. It was known in Britain from one specimen on Ben Eighe, Scotland in 1954, until 2009 when Bob rediscovered it there and discovered its foodplant, Arabidopsis petraea. He subsequently found many larvae there and at 3 other localities including two new vice counties.

Gail Jeffcoate

Gail has dedicated herself to the conservation of Lepidoptera since the 1980s. She is an expert on chalk downland butterflies and downland management, and her work on the National Trust Box Hill Committee has been pivotal in the management there. She has done a remarkable job with her two specialist species – the Small Blue and Adonis Blue – and played a key role in getting Surrey’s Small Blue project established so successfully.

Gail has been an active member of Butterfly Conservation in Surrey for many years and has serves as Transect Co-ordinator, County Recorder and as part of the Surrey Nature Partnership Biodiversity Working Group. She has been walking transects since 1995, including Oaken Wood, Box Hill Viewpoint, Denbies Landbarn and Denbies Hillside. At a national level, she served on the Conservation Committee for many years and was co-author of The Millenium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland.

Gail did a great deal of recording on the Isle of Man from 2003-2014 and did a great deal to raise the profile of butterflies on the island. She is well-respected for her expertise, persistence and accuracy and is always willing to share her knowledge. She has inspired many other Lepidoptera enthusiasts and the conservation activities of the Surrey branch are much stronger thanks to her input over the years.

Dr Mark Young

Mark has been a mainstay if Lepidoptera conservation, particularly in Scotland, for more than 40 years making a great number of important contributions to the field.

For several decades, Mark acted as Vice-county moth recorder for Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire while also providing support to the running of NESBReC at the North-East Scotland Biological Records Centre. He also continues to Chair the Burnet Study Group, a body including both professionals and amateurs who are committed to the conservation of Burnet and Forester moths in Scotland. Mark served a term as Council member on the National Council of Butterfly Conservation in 2015, and regularly chaired meetings of BC Scotland Recorders’ Meetings and Members’ Gatherings.

On another level, Mark has inspired generations of students to an involvement in Lepidoptera studies and gives unsparingly of his time in helping and encouraging local butterfly and moth enthusiasts in Scotland and elsewhere. In 1997, he published The Natural History of Moths, a very readable account which includes a number of topics which would be new to general readers. Mark also, along with his colleague John Langmaid, annually publishes the review of UK microlepidoptera in the Entomologist’s Record.

Rob Petley-Jones

Rob Petley-Jones has been a conservationist for more than 35 years and has a passion for the conservation of butterflies and moths. He has developed habitats at nature reserves throughout Lancashire and Cumbria for a number of butterfly and moth species, including Coppices, Fritillary and Duke of Burgundy.

Rob has engaged the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and has established successful partnerships amongst statutory and voluntary bodies in order to drive forward the conservation of Lepidoptera. In fact, prior to Butterfly Conservation employing paid staff, Rob established the network of volunteers which still exists today and himself took on the role of transect walker, collating all the data and reporting back at recorder’s meetings, which paved the way for the current Recording Officer role.

Adrian Fowles

Adrian Fowles has recently retired as a Senior Invertebrate Ecologist at Natural Resources Wales after a career spanning over 35 years. He has spent a lifetime promoting Lepidoptera recording and conservation in Wales and his ongoing support allowed Butterfly Conservation to establish an office in Wales in 2002 and implement an on-going programme of conservation work and recording. Adrian ensured Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) support for the purchase of Butterfly Conservation’s two reserves in Wales and also guided Butterfly Conservation during the transition from CCW to Natural Resources Wales.

Adrian has been a mentor to budding lepidoptera enthusiasts and has been a driver behind much of the research on Marsh Fritillary metapopulations and genetics and developed a method of habitat assessment and mapping that now covers many of the Marsh Fritillary metapopulations in Wales. In the 1980s he worked on the Nature Conservancy Council Invertebrate Site Register team and pioneered work on invertebrates on exposed Riverine Sediments. In 1991 he became CCW’s Invertebrate Ecologist and Senior Invertebrate Ecologist in 1996. He has developed a Site Quality Index for Saproxylic insects that is still in use and a monitoring approach for invertebrate features of SSSI’s in Wales.


Margaret Vickery

Margaret Vickery has made significant contributions to Butterfly Conservation for a period of over 25 years. She has been an active member of the West Midlands Branch, and served as branch Chair from 1990 to 1996. In 1989, after three years of running a Garden Butterfly recording scheme within the West Midlands, Margaret launched this Nationally, and has run the National Butterfly Conservation Garden Butterfly monitoring scheme ever since.

Margaret has been involved in a number of publications. She wrote the Butterfly Conservation Gardening for Butterflies book in 1998, which has been a very useful source of information over the years and in 2003 co-wrote ‘Butterflies of Warwickshire – Their Habitats and Where to Find Them.’

Margaret was Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Newsletter Editor for the Warwickshire Branch from 1997 to 2002. She has also acted as Chairman and Branch Organiser and was appointed as Branch President in 2009.

Richard Sutcliffe

Richard Sutcliffe has dedicated over 28 years to the conservation of butterflies and moths in Scotland. He was one of the original Committee members who helped establish the Glasgow & South West Scotland Branch of Butterfly Conservation in 1985, and he has remained an active member. He has held a number of roles within the branch, including Chair from 1987 to 1999, Newsletter editor from 1985 to 1999 and Butterfly Recorder from 1985 to 2010. During his time as Butterfly Recorder he submitted, transcribed and verified over 116,500 records from all over Scotland! As Scottish Coordinator for the Butterfly Millennium Atlas Project, Richard was instrumental in collecting data and putting together a detailed butterfly atlas.

Philip Sterling

Philip Sterling has been a member of Butterfly Conservation for many years and is Dorset County Council’s Natural Environment Manager and Ecologist. He has had a profound influence on habitat conservation within Dorset and the creation of new habitats as part of planning decisions. One example of this was his work on the landscaping and reseeding of three extensive cuttings on the Dorchester to Weymouth Relief road. These have been sown with hand-collected local seed from Weymouth and Portland. With his support, a transect walk has been set up on the west facing slope through the Ridgway, so that the butterfly population can be monitored as the habitat matures. Small Blues have already colonised the embankment.

Philip’s passion is micro-moths and he is the joint author of the most comprehensive field guide ever produced about micro-moths, published earlier this year. This is a ground-breaking work, which for the first time opens up this difficult and often confusing group of insects to the general naturalist.

David J Simcox

For the past 34 years David Simcox has fulfilled his boyhood ambition to devote his working life to promote the conservation of butterflies and associated wildlife in the UK and, frequently, abroad.
He has made an outstanding contribution to Lepidoptera conservation, for which he is recognised with particular reference to his research on butterflies and the successful re-establishment of the Large Blue.

David Simcox reasoned that the conservation of the butterflies he loved would most likely be successful if practice was based on an increased ecological knowledge of species’ habitat requirements and population dynamics. His research has been disseminated through numerous reports and instructions that David has written for professional and amateur practitioners (including farmers), and not least by his patient, skilful, enthusiastic and frequent teaching in the field of how to recognise the often subtle niche requirements of different target species, and how to generate and maintain these through different types of land management.

David’s best known and most important work has been his contribution to  the Large Blue Butterfly restoration to the UK. This multi-faceted project, involving a wide partnership of voluntary and statutory conservation bodies, land-owners and volunteers, is generally regarded as the most successful long-term and largest conservation project involving lepidoptera in the world.

Roy Leverton

Roy has been a member of Butterfly Conservation for over 40 years and a life-long enthusiast for lepidoptera. To most people he is known as the author of the award-winning book Enjoying Moths as well as numerous published articles in various entomological journals. His book combines his two greatest skills; moth photography with a knowledgeable and enthusiastic, readable, writing style.

Roy hosts Moths Count workshops on caterpillars and provides identification master classes . At such events fellow moth enthusiasts marvel at his field craft and are left in awe at his in depth knowledge and passion for his subject. This passion and knowledge is only surpassed by his stamina.

However, Roy also studies butterflies – and has walked over 1200 miles (the equivalent of walking from Edinburgh to Milan) whilst counting butterflies on weekly butterfly transects dating back to 1978. In that period Roy has undertaken almost 750 transect counts and logged over 100,000 butterflies of 32 different species. Initially in Sussex and for the last twenty years on his croft in Banffshire that he manages as his own excellent ‘nature reserve’.

Dr John Langmaid

Dr John Langmaid, a retired general medical practitioner, is one of the UK’s leading amateur Lepidopterists, is well respected by European colleagues, and has a particular interest in the British microlepidoptera fauna and their life histories. He was joint editor (with a past Marsh Award recipient, the late A. Maitland Emmet) of Volume 4 of The Moths and Butterflies of Great Britain and Ireland (MBGBI), and was an associate editor of Volume 3. He was also co-author of the Oecophoridae (in Vol. 4(1)), Coleophoridae (Vol. 3) and for much of the Gelechiidae (in Vol. 4(2)). In this work he has been exceptionally accurate, painstaking and professional, setting a new higher standard for others to follow.

Alan Stubbs

Alan Stubbs received the Marsh Award for Lifetime Achievement in Lepidoptera Conservation. Alan pioneered the conservation of insects at the former Nature Conservancy and since his retirement has actively supported volunteer groups, including Butterfly Conservation.

Matthew Oates

Matthew Oates is the author of several books including “The Butterflies of Hampshire” and “Garden Plants for Butterflies” and his enthusiasm for lepidoptera has been captured in the 2007 television series “Great British Summer”. He is extremely knowledgeable on habitat management requirements and is a regular contributor at BC International Symposia.

Roger Dennis

Roger Dennis’ interest in butterflies, combined with the conviction that successful conservation depends on knowledge, has led him to explore an enormous range of butterfly-related topics for over 30 years. His fieldwork has covered many aspects of ecology and he has a prodigious publication record, including the landmark publication in 1977 of “British Butterflies: their origin and establishment”.

Barry Goater

Barry is an internationally respected authority on lepidoptera with a lifelong interest in natural history and especially moths. He is the author of many standard works and has contributed greatly to advancing the knowledge of butterflies and moths. He has also worked to promote an appreciation of lepidoptera and particularly to raise awareness of factors affecting their conservation at a local, national, European and international level for many years.

The Butterflies and Moths of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, published in 1974, was one of the first county lepidoptera faunas to include conservation as an integral part of the work. His time as County lepidoptera Recorder, and later County Moth Recorder, for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight spanned over thirty years’ service and laid the foundations for the success of Butterfly Conservation’s recent butterfly and moth recording projects in the two counties. During recent years, Barry has become increasingly involved in international issues.

Paul Harding

Paul Harding, through his work at the Biological Records Centre, has been strongly influential behind the scenes in promoting the importance of butterfly recording, in stimulating interest in recording and in contributing to the setting up of standards that are now widely adopted, always with the prime objectives of conservation and understanding of butterfly issues in mind. He has also been very effective for many years in catalysing networking and in establishing contacts between disparate organisations within UK and in promoting links with organisations outside UK, not least the Republic of Ireland, and in resolving some tough political issues. He has been a member of the Butterfly Conservation for some years and has given much to the Society. His retirement in 2003 from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology is a very appropriate milestone point.

Roger Smith

Roger Smith has spent a lifetime, around 70 years recording lepidoptera, and working in a voluntary capacity for the conservation of butterflies and moths and other wildlife. He was a founding member of the West Midlands Butterfly Conservation Branch and was also heavily involved with the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust from its inception. Roger has also compiled a number of books summarising lepidoptera records submitted to Warwick Museum from 1900 to 1987 and has lectured extensively on butterflies, moths and their conservation. He is well known for transferring his enthusiasm to other people, inspiring them to work for the conservation of butterflies and moths.

Dr Jeremy Thomas

Dr Thomas is renowned worldwide for his often pioneering work on butterflies. He is probably best known for his fascinating work on the Large Blue butterfly and has helped us to understand the butterfly’s relationship with one ant species. This butterfly became extinct in the UK and has now been successfully re-introduced to South West England. The Large Blue project is one of the greatest stories in nature conservation.

Dame Miriam Rothschild

The award was given to Dame Miriam in recognition of her lifetime love of lepidoptera and her dedication to nature conservation and research on butterflies, moths and other insects. It was Miriam’s father, Charles Rothschild, who founded the Royal Society for the Nature Conservation and produced the first list of national nature reserves for Great Britain. Miriam’s father died tragically young and it was Miriam herself who took up the conservation initiative that he had started. A confidant to many ministers in government and the Royal Family on environmental matters, her expertise and valued opinion was sought far and wide in many other countries.

Miriam was at the centre of much of the early butterfly studies and she became the first woman president of the Royal Entomological Society and was nominated fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of her scientific research. Her interest in the chemical defences of insects, especially of Lepidoptera, is highly regarded for its scientific robustness and often- novel approach.

Miriam had numerous publications which include works on promotion and popularisation of butterflies, moths and their conservation. A true polymath, Miriam has also written books on philosophy, art, politics and poetry.

Dr Ernest Pollard

Ernest Pollard is without a doubt a pioneering butterfly ecologist. He is uniquely distinguished among population ecologists in having developed the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, the first systematic monitoring scheme in the world, and is now used worldwide. He also devised and standardised the methodology behind the butterfly transects. Well over 500 of the so called ‘Pollard-walks’ take place all over Britain.

His Butterfly Monitoring Scheme has been running for more than 25years and has earned him both national and international reputation. Ernie was always cautious about making scientific assertions and to this day is still meticulous on data and its limitations. His distinctive approach to his population work on the White Admiral in 1979 was ahead of its time and gave enormous stimulus to butterfly research.

Col Maitland Emmett

The award was given in recognition of Lt. Colonel Maitland Emmet’s 90 year history of contribution to the study of butterflies and moths. Maitland’s interest in lepidoptera can be traced back as far as the early days of World War 2, based on the Isle of Wight, he was able to watch Glanville Fritillaries flying past the defensive dug-outs he was manning!

His books, as author or co-author include ‘A field Guide to the smaller Moths of Essex’, ‘The large Moths and Butterflies of Essex’, ‘A field guide to the smaller British Lepidoptera’, and ‘The scientific names of the British Lepidoptera – their history and meaning’.

Apart from his writing and editing Maitland finds time to engage in fieldwork, an activity that he has pursued in the most corners of the British Isles. His encouragement of others and the help he has given to those with an interest in learning about life histories of the British lepidoptera and in particular the ‘micros’ is enormous.