The turf was cut at a centre to mark the legacy of naturalist, bird watcher and conservationist Simon Aspinall.

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Simon Aspinall

Simon Aspinall had been a keen bird watcher from the age of eight, and spent 19 years studying birds in the Middle East.

And his father Jack, who lives in Holt with wife Sylvia, said his son had always been willing to share his knowledge.

He said: “An education centre is absolutely a fair reflection of his life.

“He just loved it here, this is where he wanted to be.”

The £2.6m education centre at Cley Marshes is being built by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to engage with visitors to teach them about the reserve.

Mr Aspinall, who died after a five-year battle with motor neurone disease in 2011 age 53, travelled the world researching and teaching about birds.

The former UEA student was well-known to birdwatchers in Cley, and so when his parents, Jack and Sylvia, approached the trust, it decided to name the centre in his memory.

The Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre is part of the trust’s vision for the marshes, which includes the purchase and restoration of further land.

Chief executive for the trust Brendan Joyce said raising the money had been an historic achievement. He said: “I am truly moved at what we are now able to deliver for the conservation, enjoyment and understanding of Norfolk’s wildlife.” Work will begin on the centre, to the rear of the existing visitors’ centre on Coast Road, in June.

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