Environmental champion who has inspired thousands receives Suffolk’s highest honour

Grenville Clarke holding the Suffolk Medal with his wife Elizabeth. Picture: CLARKE FAMILY

Grenville Clarke holding the Suffolk Medal with his wife Elizabeth. Picture: CLARKE FAMILY - Credit: Archant

An inspiring environmental champion who has devoted his life to conserving wildlife has been awarded Suffolk’s highest honour during a special broadcast.

Grenville Clarke has devoted much of his life to initiating and volunteering for environmental projects and inspiring thousands to connect with nature.

He worked with Green Light Trust to obtain funding to buy woodland in Lawshall – restored with the help of marginalised and disadvantaged people – and has since inspired similar projects. He was instrumental in establishing 62 community-owned woodlands in Suffolk and Norfolk.

Today, Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk Lady Clare Euston presented the medal to Mr Clarke, who is in the advanced stages of motor neurone disease, on Lesley Dolphin’s BBC Radio Suffolk show.

She described the medal as Suffolk’s “greatest accolade to one of its own” and said the honour is “an opportunity to single out people who have done something extraordinary for this county”.

Lady Clare said: “Grenville, it gives me great pleasure – and you’ll have to imagine that I am with you – to present you with the Suffolk medal which comes with enormous gratitude from all those of us who live in Suffolk and love this county.

“We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude.”

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The medal itself had been delivered to Mr Clarke’s house prior to the ceremony so that his wife Elizabeth was able to present him with it during the investiture broadcast.

Presenter Lesley Dolphin asked how the couple were feeling and Mrs Clarke simply said: “We’re very emotional, I’ll say no more.”

She then proceeded to read the words Mr Clarke had prepared for the ceremony, which read: “I was totally surprised when I learnt I had been granted this award. I have to thank those who, over the past 50 years, have given me the opportunity to have such a rewarding and enjoyable time with so many lovely people.

“This award is not just for me, but for all those who have preceded me and followed through with projects like the Community Woodlands with Greenlight Trust and Blackford reserve with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.”

The medal, designed by Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling, was first awarded last year as a way of honouring people in the county that have gone above and beyond to create fundamental and lasting improvements to the local area.

Three medals were handed out last year to Rural Coffee Caravan founder Sally Fogden MBE, former East Anglian Daily Times editor, Terry Hunt, and philanthropist Richard Martineau.

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