Tributes are paid to a champion of Norfolk Broads conservation

Dr Martin George OBE

Dr Martin George OBE - Credit: Archant

He was a pioneering figure in the conservation of the Norfolk Broads and had a lifelong love affair with nature.

And now tributes have been paid to Dr Martin George, from Strumpshaw, who died on June 5 aged 86.

His wife, Barbara George, said he was a 'wonderful companion' who felt most at home in nature, fighting to preserve the environment and share his passion with others.

She said: 'He always liked being out in the field, he wasn't one to sit by the computer.'

Dr Martin, with a doctorate in entomology, first suggested setting up Strumpshaw Fen, a nature reserve run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.


You may also want to watch:


He poured his knowledge into a book, the Land Use, Ecology and Conservation of Broadland, which Mrs George said ' It was really a summary of his life's work.'

Dr George was born in the Chilterns, and formed an early love of nature exploring its flowery chalk downland with his mother. His daughter, Nicola George, said: ' From a young age he was really passionate about natural history.'

Most Read

After a period working at Dale Fort Field Centre, Dr George and his wife moved to Norfolk in 1960 where he joined the staff of the Nature Conservancy, which later become Natural England.

They had four children, three of whom also went on to work in the natural sciences. He was the grandfather of six grandchildren.

In 1966 Dr George became the Nature Conservancy's regional officer for East Anglia, a post he held for 24 years. He also worked with groups including the Norfolk Naturalist Trust (now known as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust), the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists Society, the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency), the Broad Authority, the How Hill Trust and the Broads Society

After Dr George retired in 1990, he was awarded an OBE for his services to nature conservation, and continued to work tirelessly for the environment. This included passing on his knowledge to students doing their dissertations or PhDs, collecting seeds for the Kew Seed Bank and continuing to sit on a range of committees where he continued to champion the conservation of the Broads.

Outside his work, he played the violin and formed a quartet with members of his family, and was a keen dinghy sailor from his childhood.

Mrs George a highlight of their retirement years were trips to Australia to visit their son, Simon and his family, where they particularly loved the amazing birdlife.

Tim Strudwick, RSPB site manager at Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve, said Dr George could be called the 'David Attenborough of the Broads' - so important was his contribution. He said: 'He has been an enormous figure in wildlife conservation in the Broads.'

Statement from the Broads Authority about Dr Martin George

Martin George played an important part in the life of the Broads and the Broads Authority. He was extremely helpful in the early days of the Authority when he was its Conservation Advisor. He persuaded the Authority to look at one of its first major projects, the mud pumping of Cockshoot Broad, and was also a big supporter of the Halvergate Grazing Marshes Scheme which was the forerunner of agri-environment payments to farmers.

His book charting the history of the Broads and the development of the Broads Authority has become the main authoritative work on the area and its management. After retirement his commitment to the Broads did not reduce and he was one of the most active members on the Broads Forum.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority said: 'Martin made an invaluable contribution to the understanding and management of the Broads. He also provided me with great support and advice over many years for which I shall always be in his debt.

'One of my fondest memories is a visit to his house when Martin showed me with delight around his garden and the marvellous view it gave over the Broads. His enthusiasm for the natural world was completely infectious.

'He devoted so much of his life to his beloved Broads. Meetings of the Broads Forum will not be the same without him and members and officers will all greatly miss him.'

Swallowtails

Swallowtails are the UK's largest, and among our most rare, species of native butterfly.

The front garden of Dr Martin George's home, close to the entrance of Strumpshaw Fen nature reserve, has become a well-known spot to glimpse them.

It all started because Dr George put up a sign saying that if people spot one there, they were welcome to take a photograph.

Mrs George said it somehow became known as 'the doctor's garden'.

She said they were just one of many plant and animal species Dr George had a fascination for and worked to preserve.

Tim Strudwick said: 'Many people saw their first swallowtails in his garden and it has really become known as the best place in the entire country to see them.'

Female swallowtails can have a wingspan of up to 93mm.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter