Meet the latest winner of the Suffolk Medal – the county’s highest honour
- Credit: Contributed by family
An environmental champion’s lifetime of dedication has been recognised with Suffolk’s highest honour.
Grenville Clarke has today been announced as this year’s first recipient of the The Suffolk Medal for his work with the Green Light Trust and Suffolk Wildlife Trust.
Mr Clarke is in the advanced stages of motor neurone disease, but has continued to mentor new woodland groups, linking them to primary schools and enabling children to connect with nature.
Due to coronavirus restrictions and Mr Clarke’s health, the award will be presented virtually by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk – with an investiture broadcast on BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin Show at 3pm this Thursday.
Mr Clarke has devoted much of his life to initiating and volunteering for environmental projects – helping disadvantaged adults and children benefit from nature, 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.
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His 22-year involvement with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust included roles in key developments such as the establishment of Lackford Lakes.
Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk Clare, Countess of Euston, said: “All who come into contact with Grenville still talk about him years later, and speak warmly of his calm, generous support; delivered in an entirely selfless and understated manner.
“Grenville has personally motivated thousands of people during his lifetime of contribution to this region.”
The Suffolk Medal, designed by Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling, was launched in March 2019.
Nominations come from the public and are decided on by a panel including The Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Police and Crime Commissioner, and founder of the medal, former High Sheriff George Vestey.
Last year, it was given to Rural Coffee Caravan founder Sally Fogden MBE, former East Anglian Daily Times editor, Terry Hunt, and philanthropist Richard Martineau. The medal recognises exceptional contributions that make a fundamental, measurable and lasting difference to the lives of people in our county.
Grenville Clarke’s Suffolk Medal citation
Grenville’s passion for wildlife and the natural environment, especially that of Suffolk was sparked, at the age of 15, by being introduced to bird ringing on the Suffolk coast; studying migrant and breeding birds in the Blythburgh area.
Since 1963, Grenville has devoted the majority of his life to initiating and volunteering for environmental projects. He later helped hundreds of disadvantaged adults and children benefit from the restorative and educational power of nature and inspired thousands of people to connect with their natural environment.
In Frithy Wood, Lawshall, which is a nationally important but previously neglected woodland, Grenville worked with Green Light Trust (GLT) to obtain funding to purchase the woodland, working with marginalised and disadvantaged individuals to restore it. He then documented the project’s impact, coordinating multiple surveys and finally compiling them into a book to inspire similar projects.
GLT now supports thousands of adults and children each year through woodland wellbeing and educational programmes.
Grenville was instrumental in establishing 62 community woodlands across Suffolk and Norfolk, now owned by the communities which surround them. He helped engage communities to establish a woodland, which developed into a biodiverse and valuable community asset. Always inspiring huge numbers of people to improve their environments and wellbeing.
Grenville’s achievements are not simply because of his passion for the natural world, but also a genuine love for his fellow man and strong sense of community.
Grenville is in the advanced stages of motor neurone disease, despite his declining health, he has continued to mentor new woodland groups, linking them to primary schools enabling children to connect with nature in their local communities.
During his 22 year involvement with Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT), Grenville played pivotal roles in several key developments such as the establishment of Lackford Lakes. Volunteering as a vital member of a small group, he helped establish one of the most important nature reserves in the county. Grenville was involved at a critical stage in SWT’s development, chairing a working group in building the current visitor and education centre. As a trustee from 1997 to 2005, he initiated a review of the Trust’s governance, enabling the trust to become the strong organisation it is today.