Mark Avery wins Conservation Hero of the Year Award

He’s too modest to make this announcement himself so we’ll do it for him: Mark Avery has been voted by Birdwatch magazine readers as their 2016 Conservation Hero of the Year.

He will balk at the title and many of us will revel in making mild piss-taking references to Bonnie Tyler, which he’ll accept with his usual good humour, but actually, ‘a streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds’ is not a bad definition of this year’s Conservation Hero.

You need strength, courage and determination to take on the mighty Establishment and Mark has displayed these qualities time and time again as he propelled his Ban Driven Grouse Shooting campaign towards Westminster. We’ve written of these qualities before but it’s worth repeating for those who might have missed it:

Mark started this campaign two years ago with his first petition. When that didn’t reach the required number of signatories, he launched another one. That petition did better than the first one, but was still way off where it needed to be. It didn’t help that the main environmental NGOs refused to support it. Most people would have given up at that stage, skulking away with their tail between their legs. Not Mark. He launched a third petition. That takes some balls.

This time, the petition roared past the finish line and then some! That didn’t happen by luck or by chance. It happened because a lot of people put in a huge amount of effort to promote it, and not least Mark. He’s one of the most hard-working and productive people we’ve met. He’s driven. And he’s driven this campaign, with quite brilliant strategic acumen, inspiring many of us along the way. Throughout it all he’s been subjected to vile, vitriolic personal abuse from some within the grouse-shooting industry but not once has he resorted to retaliatory invective. He’s retained his composure, his manners, his sense of humour and his integrity. That’s quite something.

This is such a well-deserved accolade for someone quite extraordinary – the conservation community is lucky to have him – congratulations, Mark!

Other winners in this year’s Birders’ Choice Awards include You Forgot the Birds, who won the 2016 Guano Award, and the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting campaign which won the 2016 Campaign of the Year Award.


18 Responses to “Mark Avery wins Conservation Hero of the Year Award”

  1. 1 Mo Richards
    December 24, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Well done Mark! Thanks for all your hard work., and thanks also to RPUK for keeping us so well informed.

  2. 2 S TUCKER
    December 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    It was a no contest really, wasn’t it?

  3. December 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    And quite right too…Well deserved. Hopefully others will wake up to the fact that change is possible, we can make it happen if we take action together.

  4. 4 C B
    December 24, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I’m delighted by all the awards, but particularly Mark’s, difficult to see how anyone else could win.

  5. 5 Nigel Raby
    December 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Nice One, well deserved

  6. 6 Dylanben
    December 24, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    He has not only massively raised the profile of the Hen Harrier and highlighted the plight it faces, but he has also caused a lot of the opposition to crawl out of the woodwork and show what a nasty lot they really are. We might not have achieved very much in tangible terms, this time around, but the whole debate has shifted several rungs up the ladder in terms of public awareness. Also good to see that ‘Hero to Zero’ got his just deserts.
    Grateful thanks are due to all at RPUK for keeping us so well informed and up to date on a wide range of issues. Your professionalism and expertise must surely be the envy of the ‘dark side’.

  7. 7 Chris Roberts
    December 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    I would also like to congratulate Mark for this well deserved win. As others have said, thank you Mark, RPUK and the many others, for all the hard work that you do to protect our raptors and other wildlife.

  8. 8 Chris Davies (Mrs)
    December 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Well done Mark, you’re a hero and so are all the people who fight to protect our bird population. Hooray to all of us. Happy xmas everyone.

  9. 9 SG
    December 24, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Congratulations Mark! So pleased you have won this award. And many congratulations to all at Raptor Persecution UK – you are also our conservation heroes! Merry Christmas

  10. 10 crypticmirror
    December 24, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    I congratulate Mark heartily. I wrote to my MP asking him to join in the congratulations and mention it in The House. He won’t of course, he is a careerist Tory, but at least it will tweak his nose and prevent him from forgetting the issue. I would encourage all others to write to their own MP asking them to join in congratulations and mention it in the house. Even for those with Tories it reminds them that the issue shall not go away, and at least they’ll have to come up with a written reason why they won’t say anything.

    You can write to your MP free of charge via https://www.writetothem.com/

  11. 11 Tony Warburton MBE
    December 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I add the congratulations of the World Owl Trust to your well deserved win Mark. Keep up the good fight and we will win the war in the end. I would also reiterate the comment of SG. Although you were pipped at the post by a mighty champion RPUK you are still our conservation heroes too. Happy Christmas everyone, and let us hope for better things in 2017 than happened or didn’t happen (i.e. successful guilty verdicts and appropriate realistic sentencing) in 2016.

  12. 12 Jimmy
    December 24, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Well done that man!!

  13. 13 JW4926
    December 24, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    After the petition reached the dizzy heights of Parliament, the recognition of Mark’s adherence to his beliefs by this award has made my year ….. and I’ll be he’s ever so chuffed too really!! Well done Mark – long may your inspiration and encouragement be acknowledged and appreciated ……..

  14. 14 Doug Malpus
    December 24, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    My congratulations to Mark for the award.

    May I suggest the next petition to be focused on stopping all driven game bird shooting, to get it passed into history where it ought tone.

    I will pass on the news to my MP too.

    Have a merry Christmas and let us work towards eradication of driven game shooting in 2017.


  15. December 25, 2016 at 12:19 am

    The man Avery’s a hero for me.
    I have learnt so much from reading ‘Inglorious’ and Mark’s blogs.
    RPUK’s blogs too.
    Keep the pressure on the natural heritage destroyers.
    All the best for 2017.

  16. 16 Mairi
    December 25, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Congratulations and well deserved to Mark, and thank you to all at RPUK; without you both info and the truth would be very hard to come by. Hope 2017 has more good news than bad!

  17. 17 Les Wallace
    December 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    Aye very well deserved win indeed, know that RPUK would be even happier with Mark getting the award than itself, which shows how great RPUK is too. He has really, really put his neck out and there must be a lot of personal sacrifices involved in doing this. Many of the NGOs won’t have the independence he has none the less they could and should do more to speak out publicly. Mark’s win will be sending out a much needed message. Well done Mark!

  18. December 27, 2016 at 11:23 am

    It all been said already, but what a charming champion we have had in Mark. How many of us would be here were it not for his campaigning action mixed with good humour and dogged determination?

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