Exceptional, long-term work for wildlife carried out by two leading Hertfordshire naturalists has been recognised by the presentation of prestigious HNHS awards.

Picture shows Stuart Warrington (left) at Digswell Lake and Bob Reed (right) at Pishiobury Park

Stuart Warrington from Welwyn Garden City, an ecologist and expert on water bugs and beetles, received the Society’s Trevor James Award for an outstanding county naturalist. And the Society’s 1875 Award for an outstanding contributor to county natural history went to Bob Reed in recognition of almost 60 years conserving wildlife in his home area of Sawbridgeworth and Bishop’s Stortford, including a reintroduction of Water Voles along the River Stort.

Until recent retirement, Stuart was East of England Nature Conservation and Wildlife Advisor to the National Trust, having previously lectured in ecology at the University of Hertfordshire. His skill in finding and identifying water insects has greatly increased the knowledge of species found in the county, but the award also recognised his wider expertise in the management of habitats and nature reserves. He was editor of HNHS journal The Hertfordshire Naturalist for many years until 2013.

Stuart is a specially appropriate winner of the first-ever Trevor James Award, which has been re-named this year to commemorate Trevor, another outstanding Hertfordshire naturalist and an expert on land beetles and plants, who died in 2020. Accepting his award online at the HNHS annual meeting on November 27 Stuart said he had been fortunate to enjoy a deep curiosity in the natural world throughout his life: “There’s always so much to learn and so much more to learn,” he said.

Bob Reed, who was born and bred in the Stort Valley, is a retired biology teacher whose many roles include being a Living River Champion for the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, in recognition of his efforts to safeguard the county’s rare chalk streams. He helped pioneer the re-introduction of Water Voles in 2015 and 2017 and is warden of the Sawbridgeworth Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest. His achievements also include a successful seven-year campaign to have Pishiobury Park designated as a Local Nature Reserve and advising Sawbridgeworth Council as its ‘Eco-Auditor’.

A self-confessed gadget fan, he is the inventor of camera traps attached to floating motor boards that are used to monitor water wildlife and ‘Bob’s Bailing Box’ for stacking hay on ecologically sensitive grassland – a solution that has been adopted by other conservation groups. Bishop’s Stortford Natural History Society is just one among several wildlife activity organisations that he chairs.

Accepting his award, Bob hoped his work would help people to better understand and enjoy local wildlife. “I have lived in the same area for over 70 years and thought I knew it pretty well. But doing the recent eco-audit for Sawbridgeworth was a revelation in terms of finding out what we have on our own doorstep. If I can only persuade people to take a walk, investigate and appreciate what they have locally then I’ll have achieved my aim.”