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Tributes paid to naturalist whose 'love of wildlife' touched so many

Tributes have been paid to Gary Mills. Picture: supplied by Dawn Ward

Tributes have been paid to Gary Mills. Picture: supplied by Dawn Ward

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Tributes have been paid to a well-known naturalist who worked at one of the area's most popular tourist attractions.

Gary Mills, dressed in 1920s clothes, at the 90th anniversary celebrations at Cley Marshes in 2016.  

Picture: MARK BULLIMOREGary Mills, dressed in 1920s clothes, at the 90th anniversary celebrations at Cley Marshes in 2016. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Gary Mills was senior visitor assistant at Cley Marshes visitor centre.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust's chief executive Pamela Abbott paid tribute and said: "We are deeply saddened at the death of Gary Mills.

"In the four years he worked at Cley Marshes, Gary's excellent birding knowledge was hugely valued by visitors and staff.

"He created a whirlwind of purposeful activity at the visitor centre and so many people were touched by his vibrant, engaging way of sharing his love of wildlife and promoting the wonders of our very special site at Cley."

Volunteers were told the sad news of his death by the trust's volunteer co-ordinator Alan Marchbank.

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He said: "Gary had been unwell for some time with cancer and his condition worsened very quickly over the last couple of weeks.

"Gary started his time with the trust as a volunteer and then went to work at Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, before returning to work as a staff member for the trust at Cley for the past four years."

Mr Mills' partner Dawn Ward said the family and extended family were "all devastated".

Mr Mills was originally from Woolwich in south-east London and he was well-known as being a Cockney character. He formerly lived in Lyng.

He was pictured in the EDP dressed in 1920s clothes at the 90th anniversary celebrations of the UK's oldest Wildlife Trust at Cley Marshes in 2016.

At the time he said how good it was to show people how the trust and reserve had grown, and that the original vision of creating large landscapes to protect the birds and wildlife was still going strong.

Mr Mills died on Saturday, November 23. The 53-year-old, who lived in Reepham, leaves behind two sons, Jake and Shane.

The funeral is 1pm on Wednesday, December 11 at Cromer Crematorium. Mourners will then head to Cley naturereserve to remember and share stories of Mr Mills. Everyone is welcome to attend either event. Family flowers only, donations to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

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