Marsh Volunteer Award for Marine Conservation

This Award is run in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts and recognises a volunteer who has made an outstanding contribution to marine conservation and who has furthered the work of the Wildlife Trusts in this area.

The Award is open to all 47 Wildlife Trusts, and volunteers are nominated by local Trusts. The Award is delivered in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts ‘Living Seas’ projects, a scheme for the conservation of the seas and marine wildlife.

Nominations are gathered by the Wildlife Trusts and a shortlist is put forward to the MCT for the winner or winners to be selected.

Pictured: Tompot blenny © Paul Naylor

Vanessa Lloyd and ShoreSearch Volunteer Group 2022

Vanessa Lloyd, Somerset Wildlife Trust 

Vanessa is the lead volunteer for Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Sea Watch surveys, which have been running on a monthly basis since 2018 in conjunction with the Sea Watch Foundation, where Vanessa is a regional representative. Vanessa has built up a mailing list of over 100 volunteers and regularly recruits up to 20 people to assist with surveys. Recently, Somerset Wildlife Trust have been focusing on building a better picture of their resident harbour porpoise population, and Vanessa has organised regular sea mammal surveys to assist with this data collection. She has also run several training sessions over the years and the increased number of trained surveyors as a result of these sessions has led to more people submitting casual individual sightings. Vanessa produces and annual report and regularly updates the social media accounts relating to these projects. Her knowledge and enthusiasm has meant that many more people are aware of, and engaged with, this important work. 

ShoreSearch Volunteer Group, Somerset Wildlife Trust 

Somerset Wildlife Trust has been running ShoreSearch surveys since 2019, with enthusiastic volunteers regularly taking part in all aspects of the data collection. While a large number of people have volunteered at at least one survey, there is a core group of 10-15 regular volunteers who turn up rain or shine, and are now taking on more responsibility as they learn to use the mobile app to help upload data. Somerset’s shoreline has a real lack of intertidal records and the volunteers are assisting in building up a great set of baseline data as they become increasingly competent in methodological and identification skills. As the group continues to evolve, Somerset Wildlife Trust are carrying out other surveys and hope to introduce some mini research studies for the volunteers to be involved with. This team of volunteers have helped to fill a real knowledge gap about the county’s coastal ecosystems. 

Previous Winners

Isobel Pring, Cheryl Yarham, Justin Hart and the Seal Group Volunteers

Isobel Pring – Somerset Wildlife Trust 

Isobel signed up as a lead volunteer for Somerset Wildlife Trust’s newly re-launched ShoreSearch programme in early 2019 and quickly became a valued, highly motivated and organised member of the team. She took on the task of recruiting, organising and supporting other volunteers to make sure the programme ran successfully. Isobel set up an online blog, Facebook page and WhatsApp group to keep everyone up to speed and also created and shared the training videos needed for the volunteers. Throughout the pandemic, she helped to make sure the volunteer group stayed in touch through Zoom training and catch-up meetings. Isobel helped to ensure that ShoreSearch surveys were Covid-secure and risk assessed when they were once again able to take place in person, sanitising equipment and ensuring socially distanced data collection. ShoreSeach has been one of the most successful parts of the Somerset Wildlife Trusts and its success is largely thanks to Isobel’s contributions.  


Cheryl Yarham – Cornwall Wildlife Trust  

Cheryl is incredibly thoughtful, kind and has been a dedicated and valued member of the marine conservation team at Cornwall Wildlife Trust over the past 4 years, even while working a full-time job. She started as a volunteer in 2017 when she supported the Environmental Records Centre with their Cornish hedgerow mapping work, using technology to map traditional Cornish hedges throughout the country, taking time out of her week to complete the work to a high standard. In 2018, Cheryl started working on the Marine Strandings Network, collating and analysing data about marine organisms found stranded along the Cornwall coast, and soon progressed to assisting with the project’s engagement work to help raise awareness of the issue. Cheryl now coordinates the Seaquest project for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, processing data, running the public sea watchers programme and training new Seaquest volunteers. This project aims to help the public better understand the marine environment around them and protect it for the future. Cheryl represents the volunteers on this programme to a high level and the project could not be delivered successfully without her.  


Justin Hart – Alderney Wildlife Trust 

Justin joined the Alderney Wildlife Trust as a full-time volunteer in 2017 for the terrestrial bird monitoring team and bought with him a wealth of experience in marine and seabird surveys. He has heavily contributed to the Trust’s Living Seas Programme and seabird monitoring project, particularly for Alderney’s Ramsar Site management plan which is in place after the island was named as a wetland of international importance. Justin has enhanced the Trust’s knowledge of the island’s Grey Seal population and increased the records of subtidal marine species and habitats that are held by the Trust. Justin runs boat trips for marine based surveys and public engagement activities with the local community. He is very skilled in engaging with the public on promoting the local marine species and their conservation importance. Justin is always willing to drop everything and go that extra mile to help the Living Seas Programme with any aspect of marine conservation work.  


Seal Group Volunteers – North Wales Wildlife Trust 

The Seal Group Volunteers have been a visible presence at a local seal haul-out site (where seal’s come ashore to rest) on the North Wales coast for the past 5 years. The site is surrounded by a large human population and experiences a large number of visitors from both the sea and land which can be a potential disturbance. The volunteer group has expanded as the seal numbers have increased and they have documented seals’ behaviours throughout the pupping and moulting season. The volunteers speak to members of the public about the ecology, behaviours, and life history of the seals and when appropriate encourage those who wish to get a bit closer to experience some great views. They also liaise with other local visitors, photographers and dog walkers and have been increasing their work in a wider sense by liaising with others who are also working to document and tag seals across the UK. The Seal Group has allowed a relatively stable and increasing breeding population, with a well-informed community who are willing to help to keep the seals safe. 


Ronald Surgenor, Emma Dawber and Mandy Fall

Ronald Surgenor, Ulster Wildlife Trust 

Ronald has been a dedicated volunteer sea-angler for the Trust’s Sea Deep project since the launch of the project in 2018. After completing his training, he has continuously endeavoured to tag sharks and skates and expand the project’s survey area by fishing in new locations. He holds the record for the most tags submitted, having tagged and released over 60 sharks of 6 different species, and his data contributes to datasets which are used to inform management and conservation. Ronald is so passionate about the conservation of local endangered sharks and skates that he has achieved the first Common Skate Wildlife Order license for the project and therefore is one of only a small number of anglers allowed to tag common skate in Northern Ireland, with his records making up more than 75% of all skate records to date.

Ronald is a role model in the angling community, encouraging other anglers to handle sharks and skates according to best practice techniques. He has recruited anglers to join the tagging programme, increasing the number of sharks tagged and increasing good angling practice throughout the community. Ronald has gone above and beyond for the project, promoting the project on the BBC, filming training videos and attending workshops with government and academia to share his knowledge and encourage further protections for endangered species.

Emma Dawber, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust 
Emma has been an invaluable member and asset to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Living Seas education work programme since 2016, and she has dedicated 1064 hours to volunteering. She has supported education in the Living Seas Centre, engaging thousands of children and assisting staff with operational duties so that it can be open 7 days a week. She has also hosted volunteer days at her home, delivered the Trust’s ‘Peering at Puffin’ events and supported the Trust at Countryfile Live.

Mandy Fall, Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Mandy joined the Coast Care project last year and has dedicated 54 volunteering hours to date across a range of roles and opportunities. Mandy’s patch is perfect for her as she regularly spots Bottlenose Dolphins and Porpoises, which is one of her greatest passions. She is a keen wildlife spotter and over lockdown has monitored three Oystercatchers and took the highs and lows of their nesting attempts over the summer. As visitor numbers increased to her patch, Mandy has been working hard to remove litter left behind, clearing over 400kgs of waste from the coastline. Mandy also volunteers as a Marine Medic for British Diver Marine Life Rescue and is a Beach Warden for the Marine Conservation Society.

Ian Tittley and Catherine Cave

Ian Tittley

Ian Tittley was one of two people who established a volunteer group to undertake intertidal surveys around Kent in the 1980s, an initiative which lasted 20 years and later evolved into Kent Shoresearch. Ian’s involvement continued, supporting Kent Wildlife Trust’s surveys and marine programme more widely. As the marine algae specialist at the Natural History Museum, his immense knowledge and unfailing participation in surveys meant the algal data collected was always accurate and comprehensive, and he has identified numerous samples from dives, handed over to him in small frozen packages.  He recently consolidated this wealth of data into a published atlas of the seaweeds of Kent which involved visiting every 1km square around Kent’s long coastline. He has generously and patiently shared his knowledge on volunteer events, and during workshops behind the scenes at the Museum, on training days on the shore and in classrooms. He has participated in professional surveys without payment and contributed to Kent Wildlife Trust as a Trustee, championing marine conservation in the Trust.


Catherine Cave

Kate is a very passionate and enthusiastic volunteer and marine champion who is an incredible asset to the Living Seas North West team, who she has volunteered with for over 4 years. She is a local retiree from the education team at the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre and has a wealth of knowledge about local habitats and wildlife and is able to communicate her expertise to a wide range of different audiences. She helps out at events by running stalls, creating arts and crafts with children, mud dipping, leading guided walks and many more!

She has helped spread local and National Wildlife Trust messages for conservation including the work of two local projects; Living Seas North West and the Fylde Sand Dunes project. She lobbies the local community to take action for their seas and coastline and has inspired countless people to follow Wildlife Trusts campaigns. Kate is brilliant at communicating with children at an interesting but informative level that is easy to understand. Her background in education means she is ideally placed to nurture young minds and encourage them to take ownership for their local coastline as they grow. Kate always goes above and beyond to help, for example in previous years in the temporary absence of marine officers, Kate has stood in to enable the smooth running of events and promote the work being done. The Fylde Coast is a better, cleaner, more educated stretch of coastline for having amazing volunteers such as Kate.

Northumberland Coast Care Volunteers

Amanda Crowley joined Coast Care at the start of the project in 2017 and is a really enthusiastic volunteer.She attends a large amount of Coast Care’s organised beach cleans, has taken on the role of Site Warden and does daily surveys and cleans on her local beach in Beadnell. Amanda has a keen interest in conserving wildlife, and has participated in surveys including rocky shore, butterfly, pollinators and seabirds.

Carol De Brikasaan joined Coast Care as soon as it was formed in 2017 and has always been an enthusiastic volunteer. She attends a large amount of organised beach cleans and has set up a small group in her local area to organise additional Coast Care beach cleans that she runs on a weekly basis. Carol also attended training on how to become a site warden to take care of her own stretch of beach. Carol is recruiting and inspiring people in Berwick upon Tweed and making a massive difference in spreading the word about the litter problem along the Northumberland Coast.

John Parkin joined Coast Care in 2017 and was very enthusiastic from the start, not only does he attend a large amount of organised beach cleans, and practical conservation tasks, he has also taken on the role as site warden and does daily surveys and cleans on his local beach at St Aidans. John has taken part in regular wildlife surveys including rocky shore and seabirds and has helped build barn owl boxes for the local area.

Lynne Russell has been working on the Coast Care project for a few months, and has been highly dedicated. Not only does Lynne clean her own beach on a weekly basis she has also set up her own group called Litterbugs, which encourages local school children to ger involved in recycling and picking up litter. She also runs a monthly column in the Northumberland Gazette raising public awareness about plastic and attends a number of local group beach clean events.

Raine Doelberg has litter picked all her life wherever she has been and for the last 6 years she has been cleaning Spittal dunes and beach almost every day in all weathers, actively recruiting volunteers to help her. For 2 years she ran an anti-litter competition, designing all the graphics, devising the questions and organising sponsors, prizes (made from recycled litter!) and a prize giving. Recently she has given a presentation and booklets to the Berwick Council highlighting the amount of litter and the problems it causes in Berwick, also manning a display stand for the public. She is currently designing posters to go in Council notice boards.

Fred Booth, Dr Melanie Broadhurst and Pauline Gillings

Fred Booth

Fred has championed marine conservation in Kent for decades, instigating a Marine Group of volunteers in the 1980s. He personally recorded habitats and human activities along almost every kilometre of Kent’s long coastline as part of the national NCC Coastwatch project, building his knowledge of the coast and wildlife. He has run countless marine life identification training courses and spends time with volunteers on surveys passionately sharing his knowledge about the species they encounter. Fred was instrumental in establishing Kent Wildlife Trust’s marine programme, where The Wildlife Trust’s Shoresearch was born. He has been an inspiring mentor to the new marine staff, continuing well into his 80s to survey, engage and train numerous new volunteers. The data he has collected, and inspired others to collect, has been critical in identifying the location of most of Kent’s Marine Conservation Zones.

Dr Melanie Broadhurst

Melanie started volunteering with Alderney Wildlife Trust in 2007 as the Trust’s second ever voluntary Ramsar site Officer, where she helped to establish the basis for the first ever environmental records centre, completing a new Ramsar Information review and establishing marine links and co-operation across the Channel Islands. While studying for her PhD, Melanie maintained her contributions to the Trust, leading dozens of marine activities annually and increasing links with other organisations. She also provides a great deal of support to the Living Seas team at the Wildlife Trusts and a number of other organisations, while sharing her knowledge and experience with MSc students who go to Alderney to complete field work.

Pauline Gillings

Pauline has attended regular beach cleans at Cley Marshes since they began in Spring 2015, and soon after became an official volunteer with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and began running the beach cleans when the education officer was away, which she now has full responsibility for. She is dedicated to her role at the beach cleans, attending every month with enthusiasm and removing a large amount of litter which would otherwise be harmful to wildlife in the area. Pauline is very active in promoting the events and has increased the number of volunteers substantially.

Nigel Phillips and Ivor Rees

Nigel Phillips began volunteering with the Somerset Wildlife Trust in 2010, becoming a champion for the importance and diversity of the county’s coastal marine environment which had before gone largely unnoticed. He is a hugely passionate naturalist and conservation advocate, and has trained himself in coastal ecology and species identification, developing an intimate knowledge of the coast after hundreds of hours walking and surveying it.

In 2013, Nigel became Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Ambassador and has organised a full and varied programme of coastal and marine events that have raised the profile of the coastal area. He has also written two books, Somerset Coast: A Living Landscape and A Guide to Finding Seashore and Rockpool Life in Somerset, which he uses to promote the Trust and illustrate its Living Seas vision. Nigel has set up an intertidal survey volunteer group, organising training sessions in the Shoresearch methodology, which has led to an increased level of data being made available to the Trust.

Ivor Rees

Ivor is a long standing volunteer, mentor and marine conservationist, as well as an Honorary Research Fellow at Bangor University and a member of the North Wales Wildlife Trust’s Marine Advisory Group. Both Ivor and his wife have been active members of the Trust for well over 40 years, providing advice and using their extensive knowledge of marine life and conservation to direct and inform marine projects and campaigns.

Ivor has an extensive library of publications to his name and is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to the Welsh wildlife magazine, Natur Cymru, along with editing the articles on marine subjects. In 2007, the North Wales Wildlife Trust Marine Advisory Group was formed with Ivor as one of the founding members. The group has formalised the advice that he is able to give and has allowed him to help manage and protect the coastal reserves in North Wales. Over the years he has led many seashore walks for members and the public.

Betty Green

Betty Green is a long standing member of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, having first joined the Trust in 1975 and becoming a life member in 1989. Over the years, Betty has pursued an interest in marine conservation and diving and she and her husband took part in various dive expeditions from the early 1980s. In 1996, they provided information and photos on Cumbrian marine sites for the JNCC publication Coasts and seas of the United Kingdom, Region 13 Northern Irish Sea which mapped the coastal environment to help fill some of the data gaps needed for policy development and environmental management.

In the early 1980s, Betty initiated a marine group for the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, bringing together people from around the county to pursue an interest in marine wildlife. Despite the group eventually disbanding, Betty continued to promote marine conservation within the Trust and the Living Seas programme now sits alongside Living Landscapes at the core of the Trust’s strategy and vision.

Betty continued to actively participate in Shoresearch surveys as a volunteer for the Trust. She also volunteers at or attends all of the Trust’s major marine events to show her support for the work that they do. In addition, she travels down to the Coastal Futures Conference every year and has continued to be supportive of, and involved with, the world of marine conservation whenever she can.

Paul Naylor

Paul Naylor is one of the UK’s top underwater wildlife photographers. He has built up a fantastic collection of images of British marine species and habitats and inspired countless people with his photography books which give a fascinating insight into the life, behaviours and struggles of the species he photographs.

Paul has been a dedicated partner with the Wildlife Trusts Living Seas programme for many years, supporting their work both personally and through donations of his photographic work and books. His images have been the face of many Wildlife Trusts’ campaigns and are widely recognised. Paul has also given talks and inspiring presentations at various events and conferences, again, giving his time and enthusiasm freely.