Marsh Staff Awards with the Wildlife Trusts

These 2 Awards are run in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts and recognises a member of staff  from the Wildlife Trusts who has demonstrated strong environmental leadership and enterprising community engagement.

The Leadership and innovation in Nature Restoration Award aims to recognise and celebrate an individual who has successfully led an innovative or transformative project to bring back wildlife.  In doing so, the leader will have demonstrated strong strategic and partnership leadership resulting in a significant step forward in our agenda to bring back nature.  

The Unsung Hero Leadership Award aims to recognise and celebrate an individual who may not have been recognised before, yet has led a transformational change in the running of their organisation’s operations that has ultimately led to greater impact in our work to bring back nature.   In doing so the individual will have shown humility, commitment to the cause, courage to do the right thing and consistent and excellent teamwork. 

James Hitchcock and Flavia Ojok 2022

Marsh Award for Leadership and Innovation in Nature Restoration 

James Hitchcock – Radnorshire Wildlife Trust 

James is the CEO of the Radnorshire Wildlife Trust in Wales. James has been running campaigning work on the River Wye with the determination to buy a key nature recovery site at Pentwyn Farm. Managing the risks of the process and gaining trustee buy-in shows his extraordinary leadership courage. The farm is already being recognised as an exemplary regenerative farm that local farmers have been invited to visit to discuss sustainable farming and produce change in local farms. James’ work has been challenging due to border complexities and he has bought together partners and communities to challenge governments, agencies, and food suppliers. He has also developed an all Wales and cross border citizen science project to empower communities to help restore the iconic river. The River Wye campaign is creating a focus on pollution, which has helped Welsh advocacy work to ensure water regulations are supported and if the citizen science project is funded, then local communities will be empowered to become actively involved. James has a real ability to bring people with him whilst having the knowledge to address challenges. 

Marsh Unsung Hero Leadership Award 

Flavia Ojok – Derbyshire Wildlife Trust 

Flavia is the Early Talent and Inclusion Manager at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust where she has lead culture change by developing programmes to enable underrepresented groups to gain paid work experience. Flavia’s work has transformed the way staff think about inclusion and has embedded it into their work. The Trust have seen increases of young age groups and ethnic minorities working for them over the past few years and the cultural change she has encouraged has allowed people to feel they can join the Wildlife Trust, increasing the number of people that advocate for nature and encouraging more diverse groups to gain employment in the sector. This will allow the Trust to learn and grow to have an impact for their success and the wild spaces in the future. The Trust now has paid traineeships that are embedded into their work, reducing barriers, and providing those accessing them with real skills for the future.  

Previous Winners

Lisa Lane and Rachel Giles

Marsh Award for Leadership and Innovation in Nature Restoration 

  • Lisa Lane – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust 

Lisa has been with the Trust for over 17 years and has been dedicated to the transformation of Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve from a barren wheat farm to an incredibly diverse, wildlife rich nature reserve. Lisa has brought in numerous funding projects with the help of the grants team, including constructing a new bird hide along the Thames path and improving species diversity, improving access and information on the ground to help the public understand the wildlife at Chimney Meadows. In 2017, Lisa and her team were presented with a unique opportunity to undertake a wetland restoration project of a size and scale that is rarely seen in the area. Once funding was secured, she was instrumental in transforming the waterway to allow the old River Thames to be connected back to the river and floodplain, whilst also creating a migration route for fish to move to new breeding habitats. Work on this project officially began in 2020, during the pandemic, and is progressing well. In late December 2020, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer, she has gone through surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but her determination to see the work through, she has been able to still work, making sure that the project continues with the support of the Project team. Lisa also developed the Friends of Chimney Meadows volunteers, which now has 100 volunteer members, focussing on fencing works, habitat management and access works. Her legacy is remarkable and impactful, with the foundations she has laid allowing work to continue for many years to come. 

 Marsh Unsung Hero Leadership Award 

  • Rachel Giles – Cheshire Wildlife Trust 

 Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is a private investment stream which is being explored by the Wildlife Trusts as a way of securing long term additional funding to help the organisation achieve its nature recovery objectives. Rachel has been an ambassador for BNG for the past 6 years, demonstrating commitment to securing the funding, courage to explore this new opportunity and consistent teamwork resulting in transformational change for not just her local Trust, but the organisation as a whole. Initially, her focus was on proofing the funding stream to ensure it would be suitable for the Wildlife Trusts to work with, but she has now expanded her reach to a national level of working across the organisation – helping to implement the systems and build a partnership with BNG that will ensure their funding is available to the Wildlife Trusts on a long-term basis. Rachel has been called upon to provide training courses to local Trusts on how best to utilise this funding and has been part of important discussions with national and government bodies on how this funding is being ised by the Wildlife Trusts. Thanks to Rachel’s dedication and commitment, more people across the Wildlife Trusts movement are ready to engage with this new stream of funding. She has initiated a cascade of shared knowledge which will flow out to better decisions for nature across the country. She has done this without seeking recognition, satisfied with the knowledge that she has contributed to making nature better.