A conservation advocate who manages 32 nature reserves across the county has today announced his retirement as CEO of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Dr Tony Whitbread, who joined the wildlife charity in 1991 as head of conservation, took on the role of CEO 12 years ago.
During this time, Dr Whitbread has played a huge role in seeing the trust’s membership double to 30,000.
He said: “During my years at Sussex Wildlife Trust, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most dedicated and talented staff as well as our trustees and fantastic volunteers who give their time freely to ensure our continuing success in all aspects of our work.”
Members have seen him battle against road building, urban development, the potential expansion of Gatwick Airport and other countryside loss.
He was at the forefront in promoting the need for the establishment of the South Downs National Park – a designation realised in 2011.
He also played a leading role in establishing the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, which holds almost seven million species records – information used to inform planning decisions.
This led to the highly popular Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar and county wildlife site surveys.
Alongside his role as CEO for Sussex Wildlife Trust, Dr Whitbread is the national spokesman for woodland issues for The Wildlife Trusts and is remembered by many for his insight into The Great Storm of 1987 when he presented the positive ecological stories for this memorable event.
Until recently, he has also acted as a Trustee of The Wildlife Trusts, advising on national conservation issues.
Dr Whitbread added: “In 1997, ‘The Vision for the Wildlife of Sussex’ was published – a document I instigated to drive positive nature conservation action for the coming 20 years. This was replaced recently with our ‘Vision for Nature and Wellbeing in Sussex’, which re-energises our commitment to deliver a living landscape and living seas, ensuring people are inspired by, connected to and value nature.
Mrs Carole Nicholson, chairman of trustees at the Sussex Wildlife Trust said: “Tony has been instrumental in developing the Sussex Wildlife Trust to be one of the UK’s leading conservation and wildlife organisations, managing 32 nature reserves across the whole of Sussex.
“We are indebted to Tony for his role in conserving the habitats and wildlife of Sussex and connecting the people of Sussex with nature.
“The support that we have enjoyed from our members and partners is in no small part a reflection of Tony’s infectious enthusiasm and leadership style.Tony leaves a firm foundation and strong legacy for the future success of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.”