27 June 2017

Fund launched to support young scientists

Dick Potts

A FUND that will provide budding scientists and land managers the chance to explore ecological research has been launched in memory of an internationally-renowned scientist, who has died aged 77.

Money raised through the Dick Potts Legacy Fund will help cover the expense of small projects researching farmland wildlife, flora and associated habitats, research supplies and equipment, travel, software and attendance at conferences.

Since the fundraising page for the Fund went live, donations have started to pour in for the former Rockbourne resident.

Some £13,000 has already been raised in honour of Dick, who was appointed director-general of the Game Conservancy Trust in 1993 - which became the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in 2007 – before retiring in 2001. Despite this, he continued to work tirelessly until his death on March 30 this year. 

His wife Olga, who helped put the page together, said: “The idea for the Fund came about soon after Dick’s death as we received numerous letters from around the world from people whose research he had encouraged and inspired.

“When they first encountered him and his work, they were young scientists and conservationists who are now at the top of their chosen field.

“As a result, we felt it would be a positive memorial to encourage the next generation of people who want to study and protect the ecology of farmland in the same practical way. Who knows, we may discover the next Dick Potts!”

Those heartfelt letters Olga refers to came flooding in from scientists whom Dick, the son of a Yorkshire farmer, inspired over the years.

Among them were Dr Mike Rands, chief executive of Bird Life International and currently director of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, who wrote: “Thanks to his belief in me and support, I was able to complete a doctorate at Oxford under his expert supervision.”

David Clark, head keeper at Sandringham Estate, said: “He helped me in my career and with advice so many times, and I owe him so much as do so many people.”

And Dr Simon Dowell, science director at Chester Zoo, added: “Much of my career would have not been possible without his support and mentorship all those years ago at the Game Conservancy.”

“I shall never forget the day he rang me to offer me my PhD in Gamebird Behaviour. I couldn't believe my luck in being offered such a great opportunity. Even so, I never imagined where it would lead me and what an amazing journey I would have along the way.”

Applications will be considered annually. Awards will be at the discretion of the Fund’s Advisors and full project results will be published.

If you would like to support the Dick Potts Legacy Fund, visit https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/gameandwildlifeconservationtrust/dickpottsmemorial

Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust – providing research-led conservation for a thriving countryside. The GWCT is an independent wildlife conservation charity which has carried out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife since the 1930s. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 50 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming, fish and statistics. We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies. The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

ISDN radio broadcast line – at our Fordingbridge HQ we have an ISDN radio broadcast line, allowing us to conduct interviews remotely.

For information, contact:
Kate Williams
Telephone: 01425 651000
Email: press@gwct.org.uk

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