‘A rare thing indeed’: tributes to fungi expert as he gets top award

Norfolk county recorder for fungi Dr Tony Leech with the Sydney Long Medal. Picture: Norfolk Wildlif

Norfolk county recorder for fungi Dr Tony Leech with the Sydney Long Medal. Picture: Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Credit: Norfolk Wildlife Trust

He has dedicated himself to the study of fungi and inspired young people to take an interest in the natural world.

Nick Acheson, wildlife ambassador for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Colin Finch

Nick Acheson, wildlife ambassador for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Colin Finch - Credit: Colin Finch

And as thanks for his work, Dr Tony Leech, the county recorder for fungi, has received Norfolk’s most prestigious award for naturalists.

Dr Leech, who moved to Norfolk in 1978 to teach at Gresham’s School in Holt, was given the Sydney Long Memorial Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the promotion of conservation.

Nature pioneer Dr Sydney Long, founder of the Norfolk Naturalists Trust (now the Norfolk Wildlife Tr

Nature pioneer Dr Sydney Long, founder of the Norfolk Naturalists Trust (now the Norfolk Wildlife Trust) in 1926. He died in 1939. Picture: Norfolk Wildlife Trust - Credit: Archant

It was awarded by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT) and Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society at the trust’s AGM on November 19.

He said: “I am honoured to receive the medal. I feel strongly that the natural world is for everybody and there are so many ways that we can enjoy it. We can make lists, we can pit our wits against evolution and try and identify species, or we can take photographs of plants, animals and fungi. Or we could just say ‘Wow’ when we see a tree in its autumn glory.”

MORE: Appeal launched to protect unique landscape and rare speciesNick Acheson, NWT wildlife ambassador, said: “Tony Leech is a rare thing indeed: an enthusiast, an expert and a brilliant communicator, all in one. While his general knowledge of natural history is huge and forever growing, he has devoted himself to the study of fungi.


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“Through this role he has nurtured and encouraged literally thousands of mycologists, from little children on his fungus forays to eminent experts.

“For an equal number of years he has lent his time and passion both to Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society and Norfolk Wildlife Trust. There is not a single naturalist in Norfolk - and I say this advisedly - who has not in some way benefited from Tony’s love of our county’s wildlife. He is the embodiment of the legacy of Sydney Long.”

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The medal is given every two years in recognition of Dr Sydney Long, founder of the Norfolk Naturalists Trust in 1926, now the NWT, who died in 1939.

Chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society Carl Chapman said: “It is so important that both organisations support one another in research and conservation so that wildlife will be around for our children, and our children’s children. The awarding of the Sydney Long Medal is a testament to Tony’s involvement in that process and collaboration.”

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