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50 not out for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Logo: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

It was 1969 when a small band of people launched Staffordshire Wildlife Trust with the aim of looking after wildlife and wild places across the county.

The group was directed by naturalist, author and broadcaster Phil Drabble (of 'One Man And His Dog' fame), who lived in Abbots Bromley, and soon after, it purchased its first nature reserve (Loynton Moss). A management committee was set up alongside the ownership of the reserve, with one of the trustees, bird expert Frank Gribble acting as leader of the group, who was awarded an MBE in 1996 for services to nature conservation.

Loynton Moss reserve, our first nature reserve (David Halley)
Loynton Moss reserve, our first nature reserve (David Halley)

Before this, the group had been a part of the West Midlands Trust for Nature Conservation founded in 1956, which included the counties of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

Since the Trust was formed, it has grown from owning just the one reserve (Loynton Moss) to 30, which includes the sweeping views of The Roaches, in the north of the county, to the diverse and rich landscape of Highgate Common, in the south. It also owns other key sites in the county, including Doxey Marshes in Stafford and Hem Heath Woods in Stoke-on-Trent.

Today, the charity has a powerful voice for wildlife and people and is the county’s largest nature conservation organisation. It is one of the largest landholders in Staffordshire, with a membership in excess of 15,000 people, with a strong conservation team force and a diverse educational programme.

Following numerous office relocations, the Trust HQ is now sited at The Wolseley Centre, near Rugeley, which has been the Trust's home since 2001, incorporating a bustling Visitor Centre. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust run another Visitor Centre at Westport Lake and in true pioneering spirit, were the first Wildlife Trust to launch a charity shop – in Leek.

Since the day the charity was formed, its mission has been to protect and enhance the wildlife and wild places of Staffordshire and to promote understanding, enjoyment and involvement in the natural world.

The Trust is based at The Wolseley Centre, near Rugeley, and has around 50 members of staff who are guided by a board of Trustees. It can carry out its work effectively thanks to the support of its hundreds of volunteers. The Trust is able to deliver on its mission thanks to the generosity of supporters, 15,000 members, its shops, grant giving trusts, local authorities, companies and charitable trusts.

The Roaches, probably our most iconic reserve (Kevin Palmer)
The Roaches, probably our most iconic reserve (Kevin Palmer)

Throughout 2019, the Trust has been busy celebrating the 50th landmark by holding special events and occasions. In April, the charity held its first ever Youth Summit Staffordshire, giving young people across the county the chance to have their say on a wide-range of environmental issues.

In June, it reopened its revamped headquarters and brand new Kingfisher Café at The Wolseley Centre.

Other events have included a ’50 Shades of Green Colour Run, the return ‘Ride the Roaches’ cycling event, opening new charity shops, a speaker night at the Lichfield Garrick and a special birthday Wildchild Festival which is set to be attended by around 1,500 people.

The Trust will also be releasing a 50th anniversary documentary on the history of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust towards the end of the year.

So it has been an extremely busy and exciting time for the charity – and the Trust hopes the next 50 years prove to be just as eventful and successful.

For more information about the Trust, head to www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk