BBC Countryfile joined Surrey Wildlife Trust for a special Mother’s Day episode celebrating 60 years of conservation in Surrey, its amazing volunteers, landscape management and pioneering education reserve at Nower Wood near Leatherhead. Matt Baker met a woman, Mary Adler, who has inspired generations of conservationists including her son and granddaughter.
The Countryfile team visited the wild heathland landscape at Brentmoor Heath, north west of Woking, where Matt Baker met Mary Adler, whose passion for protecting the Surrey landscape not only inspired her son but dozens of other youngsters and fellow volunteers. Mary Adler a remarkable woman who has embodied the spirit of the Trust for more than 30 years, was awarded an MBE for her work to protect and enhance the heathland.
Mary embraced the challenge of not only saving Brentmoor Heath from development but also whole-heartedly began to manage the 75 acres of heathland by becoming volunteer warden. A mother of three young children and with little knowledge to begin with, she found herself meeting wildlife experts for advice and leading a squadron of Royal Engineers. She said, ‘They dug an amazing pond and the dragonflies and palmate newts just followed. If you get the habitat right the wildlife comes.’
Her greatest achievement was in inspiring the younger generations including her son James Adler. He said: ‘Growing up on Brentmoor Heath was amazing, this was our playground. We were making camps, playing with snakes and chasing butterflies.’ Mary added: ‘We couldn’t go past any toadstool without James making us stop and making us really appreciate what we saw.’
A fitting tribute by Countryfile for Mother’s Day as James followed in his mother’s footsteps with a passion for nature and has now been working for the Surrey Wildlife Trust for 17 years. Today he is director of biodiversity at Surrey Wildlife Trust, managing over 7,500 hectares across the county for the benefit of wildlife, and is also land management advisor to the Wildlife Trusts.