Northumberland Wildlife Trust has lost one of its biggest friends and supporters with the death of Lord Ridley of Blagdon.
Lord Ridley was President of the Trust for a number of years. He was a continual supporter and and also donated to many of the trust’s projects involving wildlife and landscape.
Lord Ridley was a very keen promoters of the red squirrel. In this context he was one of the first people to recognise a need for a well-thought-out and strategic approach to culling grey squirrels in order to help reds survive. In the 1990s he set up Red Alert and in the following years new plans have ensured that red squirrels survive across the north of England.
Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Chief Executive, said: “Even when he was very ill, when I met him last month, he was still asking how he could help the Trust, which says much about his personal commitment to charity work and to the environment he loved so much.”
Lord Ridley was a firm advocate of managing land for farming and conservation. He developed his estate at Blagdon himself with his son, Mathew Ridley, to show excellence in land management and conservation. He is recognised as an outstanding exemplar.
An accomplished ornithologist, Lord Ridley trained in bird ringing on the Farne Islands in the 1950s. He was very creative too and both painted and drew birds. He had a book publishing of his sketch paintings. From this work the Trust produced souvenir greetings cards last year which were sold for its 40th anniversary.
Mike continued: “I will always value personally the many escorted tours he gave me and colleagues around his tree collections, arboreta and to look for wildlife on his estate and other sites around Northumberland, and I will miss, in particular, his sense of fun and humour which made every visit so enjoyable.
“Above all, he was a great wildlife and conservation ambassador and an accomplished naturalist, in the tradition of those ground breaking conservationists who set up the Wildlife Trusts 100 years ago this year – such as Charles Rothschild and Sir Christopher Cadbury. From first to last, wildlife was his passion.”