Former RSPB employee Chris Durdin began organising wildlife holidays in an era when green tourism was far less mainstream.

Eastern Daily Press: Picnic in French PyreneesPicnic in French Pyrenees (Image: Archant)

Nearly a quarter of a century later he is proud that Honeyguide Wildlife Tours has grown into a business sustainable in the economic sense too, attracting enthusiasts on bespoke environmental holidays mainly in Europe but also travelling as far afield as South Africa and Namibia.

Mr Durdin, 59, is proud that the enterprise he runs from his home in Thunder Lane, Thorpe, is eco-friendly in every sense - from the carbon offsets bought for flights and conservation donations built into every holiday package to recycled, low chlorine paper used for brochures - and he is putting Honeyguide forward for the EDP Green 100.

A lifelong passion for wildlife saw Mr Durdin work at the RSPB for nearly 30 years, many of those in the Eastern region as conservation officer and latterly public affairs spokesman.

He launched Honeyguide during his time at the wildlife charity and juggled both responsibilities for nearly two decades until his retirement from the RSPB in 2009.

Mr Durdin recalled: 'Our first two holidays were in the Spanish Pyrenees and the French region of Lot, south of the Dordogne.'

As well as taking some tours himself, he is reliant on a team of leaders, many of whom are based in the country where the tour is taking place.

He said: 'We have a brochure with 13 holiday pages but Honeyguide also sometimes runs additional holidays for groups as well.

'We have a lot of couples coming on holiday as well as friends travelling together and quite a few singles.'

As well as birdwatching, itineries include wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies and mammals - on a recent reconnaisance trip to Estonia Mr Durdin encountered brown bears and wild boar.

He said: 'From the beginning, I set out to be as green as practicable, given we are flying to many of the destinations.'

The conservation donations went to locally-based charities, for example one in the French Pyrenees that protects the lammergeier or bearded vulture.

Holidaymakers had happily embraced the idea of including carbon offsets and a £40 conservation donation in the price of their trip, he added.

'To date, we have raised more than £100,000 for conservation projects, mostly in Europe,' he said.

Are you a Green 100 business?

Our ambition is to identify at least 100 more businesses leading the way on Green issues.

But hurry, this Friday is the closing date for online entries to be considered for this year.

Working with our sponsor partners, the aim is to shout loud and proud about those achievements while also sharing those with other companies in our region to help them follow suit.

Successful applicants will be invited to a Green 100 event at the Orbis Energy Centre in Lowestoft on October 16.

We are looking for businesses or organisations which have demonstrated innovation or growth through the adoption of sustainable procedures, products or services, or have worked with partner companies to ensure the adoption of green/sustainable processes into their supply chain, as well as businesses working in the 'green economy' producing innovative products and services to help customers become more sustainable.

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