News archive

June 2019

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

On Wednesday 26 June we're bringing people-power to Westminster for The Time Is Now, a mass lobby for environmental and climate action. Organised by a huge coalition of organisations, from sports and nature to faith and parents groups, we are united by one thing: we passionately want action for nature and the climate.

We need politicians to bring in actual targets for nature's recovery (we don't currently have ANY!), and massively increase our ambitions so the UK no longer contributes towards climate change. We can do all of this through the Government's proposed Environment Bill - if it is strong enough. The lobby is your time to make sure they get it right.

Join us for an amazing day! Bring your children, parents and grandparents and speak up for the thriving world you want to live in.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

RSPB Birdsong radio

RSPB Birdsong radio

Following on from the success of 'Let Nature Sing!, the RSPB have launched birdsong radio. Stream it from the link below or download an app to stream it to your mobile device.

Monday, 3 June 2019

RSPB Local Groups - How it all began - Trevor Gunton.

RSPB Local Groups - How it all began - Trevor Gunton.

I joined the staff as Regional Organiser on April 1st 1968. The job description was a trifle unclear "to assist in projecting the aims and objectives of the Society across England". At this time the RSPB was little known outside the South East, with just one nature reserve of note in the North, that being the famous Leighton Moss in Lancashire. We also had a small full time staff in Scotland.

Before taking up my appointment, I did some homework about the Society and found that we had already been the down the local club/Society route, and at the end of the Victorian age, in the early part of our history, the main thrust of the campaign against the plumage trade had come from hundreds of small groups of volunteers, some became "local representative" not only in the UK but also in parts of Europe and throughout the Empire.

The First World War saw the end of the trade in plumage - and the local groups and clubs just faded away, even in the 1930's some local representatives were still listed in the Society's annual report.

On my appointment in 1968, a list of County/Regional representatives was presented to me. Some were dead and most of the rest were mainly inactive. So, I was given a free hand to try to re-establish a more active Regional set up. A big task!

As far as I could judge, the greatest asset we had was a full programme each year of new, home produced wildlife films - these being premiered at the Royal Festival Hall, London. These shows attracted two sell out audiences of over 4,500. After these showings nothing much seemed to happen to the films so I decided to take the films out on tour with the shows being staged in conjunction with the local and County bird clubs. These shows were very successful and I soon had a small network of volunteers who were keen to do more to help the Society.

So, in 1969, after a few false starts, the group system as we know it today was born and eventually, at the height of our development we listed 176 groups and nearly 250 annual films shows at the start of our Centenary year in 1989. These were Members' Groups, rather different to the local groups we have today and as you know these groups and local representatives raised many thousands of pounds and recruited hundreds of new members. They also played a key role in Centenary year and staged hundreds of event of all kinds.

You might say "the rest is history", but the groups had not been welcomed by the "birding" establishment across the UK. We were seen as "incomers" intent on poaching their members and depriving them of income from the film shows - films which they had rented at very low cost from the RSPB Film Unit. The establishment of RSPB groups was also opposed by some key members of RSPB Council, many who were from the "county ornithological" establishment. Difficult days. However my Director (CEO in today's terms) Peter Conder fully supported my work as he felt we were in urgent need of a more widely spread Regional framework. I remember him saying "Trevor if you think you can deliver - then you have my backing".

The regional groups led eventually to the establishment of a network of Regional Officers with staff across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Some of the early groups continued to thrive and play a key role in the work of the Society. To many people the local group "is the RSPB", some of these group members may never visit a reserve but will help at a local event, sell raffle tickets or run a stall selling wild bird food. They are all great supporters of the world's greatest wildlife conservation organisation.

So, we have come full circle, from the campaign against the plumage trade to Birdlife International. From the Film shows to lectures and worldwide conservation projects of all kinds. From birds in the garden to help on our rapidly expanding nature reserves - we all have a part to play.

So, if you are reading this as one of our supporters, thank you for all you do. We are living through a period of great change, socially and economically. The RSPB is well equipped to face these challenges, and the local group network will, I believe, remain at the heart of the Society.

Trevor Gunton former Head of (and founder of) Development 1968