Ashwell naturalist awarded BEM in New Year’s Honours List

PUBLISHED: 22:31 27 December 2019

72-year-old Trevor has been recognised for his pioneering contributions towards plant and beetle biological records in Hertfordshire. Picture: HNHS

72-year-old Trevor has been recognised for his pioneering contributions towards plant and beetle biological records in Hertfordshire. Picture: HNHS

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Ashwell’s Trevor James has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list, revealed tonight.

Trevor (right) with the late Bryan Sage, a distinguished naturalist and former president of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society. Picture: HNHSTrevor (right) with the late Bryan Sage, a distinguished naturalist and former president of the Hertfordshire Natural History Society. Picture: HNHS

Trevor has been recognised for services to nature conservation in Hertfordshire, after dedicating the majority of his adult life to recording the county's plant and beetle species.

The 72-year-old has personally collated more than one million biological records, including 90,000 plants and 20,000 beetle genera.

His work as county recorder for over 40 years set the benchmark for recording animal and plant life species in Hertfordshire and beyond, leaving a lasting legacy for conservation.

Trevor has also published two distinguished books,'Flora of Hertfordshire' in 2009, and 'Beetles of Hertfordshire' in 2018 - the latter of which was the first county-wide study of beetle species anywhere in the UK.

"The overwhelming feeling is pride", Trevor said. "I've been fortunate enough to have been awarded all manner of honorary degrees and awards over the years, but to be officially recognised in this way really is the cherry on the cake."

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Trevor added, however, that he owes much of his success to a huge slice of luck at the start of his career.

"In 1973, I applied for this role as keeper of natural history at Hitchin's North Hertfordshire Museum," he said.

"I was horribly under-qualified, but I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"During the interview somebody brought a Maybug in, and it turned out I was the only person in the room who could identify it.

"I gave my little spiel about the Maybug - which is essentially a large species of beetle - and they offered me the job."

Throughout his career, Trevor has used his records to apply pressure on local authorities, and in one case secured the rerouting of an access road to a new estate helping to save a colony of rare beetles.

Trevor was head of ecology at the Biological Records Centre at Hertfordshire County Council, before leaving in 2001 to become development officer for National Recording Schemes at the National Biodiversity Network.

Trevor retired from official work in 2014, but remains Hertfordshire's chief beetle recorder, and still serves on the British Naturalists' Association, and Hertfordshire's Natural History Society.


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