Dr Gary Mantle, chief executive officer of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) celebrated 25 years at the helm of the county’s leading conservation charity last week.
Emma Chapman, the Trust’s director of business and commercial services, said: “The achievements of our organisation have been shaped and driven by Gary’s enterprise, dedication and enthusiasm.”
Back in 1990, Dr Mantle was the first director of what was then the Wiltshire Trust for Nature Conservation.
“Most of our nature reserves at the time were not owned by the Trust, but were held through informal agreements,” he said. “We had little, if any, control over their management.”
Under Dr Mantle’s leadership the Trust has grown, and it now manages 37 nature reserves.
His first challenge, on appointment, was to find ways to continue the momentum generated by the Wiltshire Wildlife Appeal – part of David Attenborough’s British Wildlife Appeal. He was also asked to undertake a full review of the Trust, and begin the transition from a volunteer-run charity to one staffed by professionals.
“Over the past 25 years, across the UK, there has a substantial decline in wildlife,” said Dr Mantle. “It is, however, of some comfort that, in Wiltshire, nature has fared better than in most other parts of the country. Of course, this cannot all be attributed to the efforts of WWT, but there can be little doubt our county would be in a worse state had it not been for the work of the Trust.
“As people become more disconnected from nature, what gives me hope, above all, is the extraordinary people – both staff and volunteers – I am privileged to have, and continue to, work with. Their passion for nature, energy and enthusiasm help me to remain optimistic and hopeful – hopeful for our county, hopeful for wildlife and hopeful for the future.
“These are challenging times, but together we will continue to fight for nature and help create a sustainable future.”
Emma Chapman said: “Today, the Trust continues to flourish, due to Dr Mantle’s foresight and vision. It inspires and educates people of all ages to cherish the natural world, and works tirelessly to stimulate nature’s recovery. He is an inspiration to us all.”
Pictured above: Mr Gary Mantle, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust