Brecknock Wildlife Trust celebrates its golden anniversary

Monday 8th September 2014

Left to right: Lady Large, Patron of Brecknock Wildlife Trust, Kirsty Williams, AM for Brecon and Radnorshire, Councillor Geraint Hopkins, Chair of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Veronica Wilson, Chair of Brecknock Wildlife Trust, Stephanie Hillborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Dr Elizabeth Andrews, President of Brecknock Wildlife Trust, Phil Sutton, Chief Executive of Brecknock Wildlife Trust

Brecknock Wildlife Trust celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with Kirsty Williams, AM for Brecon and Radnorshire, last weekend.

Ms Williams joined member founders and their families and Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, Stephanie Hilborne OBE at a celebration event in Brecon. Also present were the Mayor of Brecon, Neil Sandford and the family of Mary Gwen Williams who left Brecknock Wildlife Trust a legacy of £1 million in 2003 and so far has allowed the Trust to purchase Cae Eglwys and Allt Rhongyr nature reserves.

Brecknock Wildlife Trust is the largest membership-based wildlife organisation in the area, dedicated to acting as a wildlife champion, creating wildlife havens, inspiring people about wildlife and encouraging sustainable living. It is supported by over 1,000 local members, manages 22 nature reserves and is one of three Trusts in Powys along with Radnorshire Wildlife Trust and Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust.

Over the last 50 years, Brecknock Wildlife Trust has seen the comeback of many iconic species, including peregrines and red kites and has worked extensively to help the otter return to the area from which it was extinct in 1964. It is well-known for its moth recording and the area now boasts over 1,000 species, including the rare Silurian moth.

As part of the celebrations, a group of staff and volunteers took part in a botany walk around Allt Rhongyr nature reserve in the upper Tawe Valley, before the main event that afternoon.

Refreshments were supplied by The Co-operative who donate the carrier bag levy from its Welsh stores to Wildlife Trusts Wales.

Phil Sutton, Chief Executive for Brecknock Wildlife Trust, said:

“This is a very special anniversary for us and an opportunity to celebrate all the hard work undertaken by staff, volunteers and members of the community over the last 50 years. It is thanks to them that wildlife in the Brecknock area can continue to thrive.”

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“Few people in the UK know how beautiful Brecknock is or much about the people or wildlife that live there. In common with other upland areas, its dramatic scenery disguises some tough truths. There is much less wildlife than there ought to be (except in the wonderful nature reserves), a good deal of rural poverty and the usual helping of depression and obesity. But the inspiring thing is that one in 50 people are members of their Wildlife Trust and the active volunteer network the charity supports means more and more people are learning about nature.
“In this way, the Brecknock Wildlife Trust is creating a truly Living Landscape which can store more water and carbon in healthy breathing soils; and sustain thriving populations of wildflowers, song birds and raptors.”

Brecknock Wildlife Trust was formed in 1964 and in the early years, everything was undertaken by volunteers. Great effort went into starting a network of reserves, setting up volunteer committees to run the Trust, recruiting members and establishing special interest groups.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, most of the Brecknock Wildlife Trust’s present nature reserves were established and the importance of looking after them was recognised at the outset. By 1980, there were regular work parties and these volunteers still go out to this day.

In 1987, the first full-time Conservation Officer started work at Lion House and by January, 1988 a team of five started carrying out wildlife surveys and writing management plans for the reserves. Before long, a part-time administrative assistant was also in post.

In 2003, the Brecknock Wildlife Trust received a generous legacy which allowed it to appoint a full-time Reserves Officer. This was vital to consolidate the improvement in the reserves achieved with the Heritage Lottery funding granted in the 1990s.

Brecknock Wildlife Trust is looking forward to its fiftieth year and beyond but can only continue to grow with support. If you would like to help, you can become a member of the Trust. For more information, please contact the office by email cmorgan@brecknockwildlifetrust.org.uk or telephone 01874 625 708 or visit www.brecknockwildlifetrust.org.uk