Congratulations to HNHS member Andrew Steele on winning the Woodland Trust's national Acorn Award – and to former Herts Bird Club Chair Ken Smith on being awarded the British Trust for Ornithology's prestigious Tucker Medal.
The Woodland Trust award recognises Andrew's work recording butterflies at Heartwood Forest, where he walks a fixed monitoring route every week from April to the end of September. The BTO's Tucker Medal is awarded for outstanding service to the Trust.
Since 2010, Andrew Steele he has identified 27 butterfly species at Heartwood, and shown that in the first six years butterfly numbers increased three-fold (a small decrease in 2016 was a nationwide effect of the wet weather). In addition to being a leading member of Heartwood Monitoring Group, Andrew is an accomplished wildlife photographer. His pictures feature in our highly-praised book, Butterflies of Hertfordshire and Middlesex, published in November 2016.
Commenting on the award, presented on December 2 2017, Sarah Shaw, the Woodland Trust's Volunteering Development Coordinator, said: "I would be surprised if there is any better, hard evidence of the benefits that the Woodland Trust brings to the English countryside. Andrew also runs regular – and very popular – guided walks at Heartwood. His knowledge of his subjects is vast, and he is a huge inspiration to all those of us who have met him or joined him on one of his walks. His hard work, dedication, talent and effort are an inspiration to us all."
Photo (©Judith Parry/WTML) shows Andrew Steele receiving his award from BBC journalist Adam Shaw and WT Chair of Trustees, Baroness Barbara Young
The Tucker Medal, awarded to Ken Smith at a ceremony in December, recognises his impressive contribution to the BTO since becoming a member in 1974, He has served on the Trust's Scientific Advisory Committee and Ringing Committee, chairing the latter from 2011 to 2016. Ken is also a leading expert on woodpeckers and, with his wife Linda, a key contributor to the Nest Records Scheme for Great and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
The tremendous contribution that Ken and Linda made to natural history in Hertfordshire over more than 40 years was honoured in 2016 when they received the Society's two 1875 Awards for that year. Among many roles, before their move last year to Sussex, Ken served as Bird Club Chairman and Chair of its Scientific Committee, as well as being county bird recorder. Linda was HNHS Secretary from 2006 to 2016.