Sir David Attenborough at YWT Askham Bog (Credit Tom Marshall)
If you are inspired by our story there are many ways you can support the work we do across Yorkshire – please take a look.
You may be surprised that both Sir Francis Terry and Arnold Rowntree were not only driven by their passion for sweets but also wildlife, or more specifically Askham Bog (pictured here), where they spent time studying nature on school trips. Understanding its significance for nature conservation and under threat of development, Messrs Terry and Rowntree secured two blocks of land that lay the foundations for Askham Bog Nature Reserve. The Yorkshire Naturalists Trust was established with the primary purpose of receiving the land at Askham Bog as a gift. Legal incorporation of the new organisation which had 11 subscribers took place on 2nd May 1946 and hence this year is the Platinum Jubilee of the charity.
Long-standing supporter Mr Holroyd attended Bootham School in York whose Natural History Club flourished under the leadership of biology teacher and Trust founder, Clifford Smith. "He encouraged us with trips to Askham Bog focussing on botany. During this time, the Trust obtained Moorlands and we worked there and at Strensall Common where we put up nest boxes.”
In 1955 the Trust’s first fundraising appeal secured Moorlands Nature Reserve, near Skelton. A few years later, in 1959, the Trust’s membership had grown to 500 and the Trust’s president Dr Edward Wilfred Taylor (who had taken over from Sir Francis Terry, the Trust’s first president) secured the purchase of Spurn Point from the War Office. In 1996 this incredibility important reserve became East Yorkshire’s only National Nature Reserve. In 2016 the Spurn Lighthouse restoration was completed and the lighthouse now welcomes visitors thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Coastal Communities Fund. Work continues a Spurn to improve visitor facilities to better protect the fragile wildlife and habitat of the peninsula.
In 1968 the Trust’s first executive officer John Newman was appointed. Having been based in the homes of volunteers the Trust moved into its first office a year later. Paid staff grew to five within a couple of years.
A member of Trust staff, Stephen Warburton, led the charge to defend Yorkshire’s Wildlife (here his is pictured in 1981 with the new Wildlife Countryside Act). For thirty years, Stephen fought and won countless battles. His forensic mind and attention to detail enabled the Trust to use local issues to pave the way for national policy to protect wildlife. At Thorne and Hatfield Moors, part of the Humberhead Levels, a tenacious campaign by Stephen and others eventually led to peat cutting being stopped and established the grounds to protect the moor as a Special Area of Conservation.
The Trust focused during its first five decades on securing nature reserves for wildlife which was very successful and the Trust now looks after 104 nature reserves, with their wildlife enjoyed by many. But as we all know, wildlife cannot be sustained within isolate pockets so in recent years the Trust has taken opportunities to work with partners and landowners to ensure wildlife thrives across landscapes. Living Landscapes!
The Trust recognised early on that simply protecting wildlife and habitats wouldn’t be enough to secure its future. The Trust had a duty to inspire and educate everyone about Yorkshire’s natural world. In 1974 the Trust began educating young people and over 40 years later the Trust has a vast programme of workshops and events for all ages spanning Yorkshire. This year alone nearly 4,000 people have joined one of our events and an estimated 168,000 people have visited a Trust Reserve.
Volunteers still remain at the heart of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and their roles range from helping with practical tasks on our nature reserves to knitting! And our volunteer trainee programme has been hugely successful in helping young conservationists make their way in to full time employment.
Sir David Attenborough
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust invited passionate naturalist, broadcaster and British icon Sir David Attenborough to join them and 1000 supporters at their 70th birthday party in June.
Here is the full video of the evening. The Trust would like to say a heartfelt thank you to David and all our supporters - here's to the next 70 years!
To help you navigate the video we have listed the chapters below.
- Director of Development Jonathan Leadley opens the evening
- YWT Trustee Professor Alastair Fitter introduces Sir David Attenborough. From 1:00
- Sir David Attenborough - An inspiring speech where he talks about our relationship with the natural world both globally and here in Yorkshire. From 2:40
- Jonathan Leadley invites YWT President Sir Jon Lawton to the stage to host a question and answer session with Sir David Attenborough*. From 13:55
- The Wildlife Trusts 100 years of nature Conservation film. From 51:14
- YWT President Sir Jon Lawton speaks on the history of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. From 1.07
- YWT Chief Executive Rob Stoneman speaks on the future of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. From 1:32
*Questions were invited from the audience ahead of the event.