The Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is very pleased to welcome Dr Mat Cottam as the new Reserve Manager at Rutland Water Nature Reserve.

Mat replaces Tim Appleton who has retired after 42 years in the role. Tim oversaw the creation of the reserve and its development into an internationally important wetland. He also founded the annual Birdfair and will continue to manage this major event.

Mat’s career in conservation has taken him far and wide. He started volunteering on RSPB and Wildlife Trust reserves around the U.K.

“One week on Skomer Island and I was hooked – I knew conservation was the thing for me”.

Shortly after he secured his first contract on the Farne Islands, working with the National Trust. Following completion of a Ph.D. at Glasgow University, and stints catching bats in Madagascar and as Conservation Officer at Broome Bird Observatory WA, he spent ten years in the Cayman Islands, working first for the National Trust, and later for the Department of Environment, establishing their Terrestrial Ecology Unit.

“I first visited Rutland Water years ago, and was immediately struck by the sheer scale of the site and the incredible number of birds. It is a real privilege to be given the opportunity to contribute to such a special place. Rutland Water is an example of what can happen when business and conservation get it right. Everything you see is down to vision and hard graft – mostly by volunteers.”

Mat is spending his initial weeks getting to know the nature reserve and some of the key people.

“There is a lot to take in, but I would like to thank Tim Appleton, and the staff and volunteers I have met so far, for being so helpful. Their enthusiasm for the work, support and understanding, have made what could have been an impossible transition into a genuinely welcoming experience.”

Photograph: Dr Mat Cottam (RWNR)