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Sudbury Common Lands Charity ranger Adrian Walters steps down after more than 30 years in role

A long-serving Sudbury Common Lands Charity (SCLC) ranger has called on everyone who uses the town’s water meadows to play a role in preserving them, as he steps down following more than 30 years in the role.

Adrian Walters announced he is retiring as a full-time ranger for the 50-hectare nature reserve west of Sudbury, although he will remain the clerk to the SCLC trustees, and will continue to support the ranger team.

During his three-decade tenure, Mr Walters spearheaded major wildlife habitat restoration work, which led to the common lands achieving Local Nature Reserve designation in 1990 and County Wildlife Site status in 2007.

Adrian Walters has been a ranger for the Sudbury Common Lands Charity for over 30 years. (37197477)
Adrian Walters has been a ranger for the Sudbury Common Lands Charity for over 30 years. (37197477)

He also helped to expand the charity’s remit to manage Cornard Country Park, Cornard Riverside, Shawlands Wood, the Wardman Meadows and the Valley Trail, helping to boost animal and plant populations at these sites.

Mr Walters stated he feels the time is right to step back, due to the demands of being a full-time ranger, but his interest in the common lands will continue.

Reflecting on his time in the role, he told the Free Press: “I was the most fortunate individual to be offered the post by the trustees.

“To be honest, in terms of the landscape and wildlife, each new working day has, quite frankly, been another day in paradise. The river meadows really are the most incredible place in Sudbury.

“Everyone who uses and appreciates the meadows has a role to play in maintaining them. Vigilance is important, because the threats are ever present, so it’s fortunate that the trustees are there to safeguard them.”

Mr Walters, who has also authored three books about the sites managed by the charity and led numerous educational outings for visiting adults and schoolchildren, added that his proudest moment was being made an honorary freeman of Sudbury, an accolade he described as an “incredible honour”.

He will be succeeded as ranger by Nick Shimwell, who will work alongside new assistant ranger Sam Morgan.

SCLC acting chairman Peter Fulcher, who has been volunteering on the common lands for more than 10 years, said: “Adrian’s love for the common lands shines through when working with the volunteers.

“We have all learnt so much about the common lands and nature through working alongside him.

“The fact that we have such a large volunteer group, many who have been volunteering for a long time, shows the respect the volunteers have for Adrian.”

Richard Titford, SCLC trustee and former chairman, added: “It was a daunting experience to join 15 other trustees caring for land of almost iconic importance to our town, and indeed beyond – land whose history reaches back over 800 years.

“Fortunately, SCLC employs rangers to advise. They know much, most of which was new to me, that the key to encouraging wildlife is proper management; that the water meadows are not a park, but a farm.

“The trustees are charged to protect and preserve these lands: Adrian’s absolute dedication means that they have also been able to enhance them.”

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