Ted Smith

Ted Smith and Sir David Attenborough in 2012Ted Smith and Sir David Attenborough in 2012 (Tom Marshall)

Ted Smith (1920 - 2015) was a conservation pioneer who founded the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. He died on Sunday 13th September 2015, at Boston Hospital with his daughters Alison and Helen by his side.

Dr Arthur Edward Smith CBE MA (always known as Ted) was born in August 1920 in Alford, Lincolnshire. He came from a long line of rural craftsmen. Educated at the local grammar school in the 1930s, Ted began his working life as an English teacher. After gaining a Masters degree in English at Leeds University and a spell teaching in the city and then Norfolk, Ted returned to Lincolnshire in 1948 as a resident tutor in adult education.

In the 1940s Ted Smith recognised the urgent need to save Lincolnshire’s most special places for nature. In 1948 he was the founding Honorary Secretary of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and went on to be Chairman and then President. He fought to save our unspoiled coast, ancient meadows and heaths and to halt the destruction of native woodland. Ted campaigned on almost every front from saving roadside flowers from being sprayed with chemicals to pressing for legislation to protect otters.

a visionary, a diplomat, and above all a revolutionary

His influence extended far beyond Lincolnshire. He travelled the length and breadth of Britain, lecturing on his vision for nature and for local Wildlife Trusts to champion it. Most importantly, he saw the need for local nature organisations which could own land and for them to derive support from a wide section of the community. He served as the first General Secretary of the Royal Society of Nature Conservation, and was also Chairman of the England Committee of the Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England). He was made an OBE for services to nature conservation in 1963, advanced to CBE in 1998, the year he also received an Honorary Doctorate of Science at the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside (now University of Lincoln). He was the first recipient of the Christopher Cadbury Medal for service to nature conservation.

In 2010, Gibraltar Point was dedicated to Ted in celebration of his lifetime commitment to the reserve. Established in 1949, Gibraltar Point was the first Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve. It was a new kind of nature reserve that promoted nature conservation, survey and research, as well as public enjoyment and access.

In 2012 he was presented with The Wildlife Trusts Centenary Award by Sir David Attenborough. Talking about Ted Smith’s dedication and presenting The Wildlife Trusts’ centenary award in 2012, Sir David Attenborough commented on the profound impact that Ted had on the first 100 years of nature conservation:

"This countryside of Britain may not be as rich as Ted knew it as a child in the 1920s and 30s but it is immeasurably better than it would otherwise have been without him and The Wildlife Trusts. Generations to come are going to benefit more than they will know."


A 12 minute film about Ted is available to watch on The Wildlife Trusts' YouTube channel


The Independent
Pioneering conservationist who led the way in creating a national movement to protect the wildlife of Britain.

The Guardian
Conservationist who inspired the creation of wildlife trusts and nature reserves.

The Telegraph
Conservationist who campaigned tirelessly for wildlife trusts to save Britain’s precious habitats.

The Express
Pioneering conservationist passed away this week, survived by his daughters Alison and Helen.

The Times
Naturalist who set out to save Britain’s meadows and was architect of the wildlife trust movement.

BBC Radio 4: Last Word
Ted Smith, the conservationist who built up the UK's network of Wildlife Trusts.

Ted Smith's friend David Attenborough described him as "a visionary, a diplomat, and above all a revolutionary"