Award for man who helps his local reds

A Stannington man who cares for a particular species of animal will be honoured for his efforts at a national ceremony next month.

Mark Legard will receive the Red Squirrel Champion accolade at the Red Squirrel Survival Trust’s (RSST’s) 2014 Volunteer Awards event.

The conservation work for Stannington’s reds that is carried out by the Northumbria Police officer in his spare time includes monitoring the woodland they live in, providing supplementary food and working closely with the local red squirrel ranger, landowners and farmers to identify areas where grey squirrels are present. He also writes a column in the village magazine.

Mr Legard said: “I’m delighted and surprised at winning the award.

“I couldn’t have achieved the results here without help from Red Squirrels Northern England and of course the great support from the Blagdon Estate and parishioners at our church.

“The red squirrel is an iconic national species that we must preserve for future generations to enjoy. What we have achieved in Stannington shows that one person can really make a difference to its survival and I would encourage anyone to contact their local red squirrel group and become a volunteer.”

The RSST is a charity that was established to ensure the conservation and protection of the red squirrel in the UK. Its awards ceremony will take place in July.

Director Janet Wickens said: “The commitment of so many people around the UK is absolutely astounding and Mark’s is no exception. We are thrilled to be able to acknowledge and celebrate the huge contribution he has made to saving a species for future generations to enjoy.”