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Man's wildlife passion does not age

PUBLISHED: 10:13 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:24 30 June 2010

Gazing through binoculars from a hide at Strumpshaw Fen, Eric Wilkinson becomes animated at the sight of otters flitting in and out of a distant reedbed.

Gazing through binoculars from a hide at Strumpshaw Fen, Eric Wilkinson becomes animated at the sight of otters flitting in and out of a distant reedbed.

Having reached 90 years, his passion for nature's wonders has waned not the slightest from his childhood days of chasing corncrakes and tickling trout.

Decades before it became fashion-able, the former train driver was already deeply concerned by the bleak outlook for wildlife and was eager to play his own small part in protecting the planet by planting thousands of trees near his home in Hillcrest, Chedgrave.

Yesterday, to celebrate entering his 10th decade as an active conservationist, he joined Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wardens for a walk in glorious sunshine around the reserve and added his signature to the charity's Letter to the Future.

The general election appeal to politicians calls on the next government to resist the temptation to make financial cuts that could harm the environment. It states: “Today there's still time to save nature. I want governments to invest in a healthy econ-omy and a healthy environ-ment. As well as protecting jobs, I want them to tackle climate change and to protect our seas, country-side and wildlife.”

Eric, who still leads a Wednesday walkers' group on rambles of up to five miles around beauty spots in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “Nature and wildlife is the most essential thing to us humans. Looking after birds and animals and looking after our farmland should be important to us, or we are all in trouble. That is why I am signing the RSPB's Letter to the Future.”


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