Philip Lord B.E.M.

Our amazing outgoing chair Philip Lord has received a British Empire Medal for services to the environment.

As many of you know, Philip has been the driving force behind the Trust since its inception back in 1998. Thanks to his business expertise, passion for rivers, and sheer determination, Philip has taken the Trust from strength to strength and overseen amazing environmental improvements.

At the age of just seventeen, following his father’s untimely death, Philip took over the running of his family firm. By sheer determination and hard work, he rapidly grew the business into a substantial commercial painting and decorating company. By the time Philip retired he employed over three hundred staff.

Philip Lord; a retirement like no other!

Philip brought this experience of growing and managing a successful organisation together with his passion for water, rivers, and the environment to establish a Rivers Trust for the river Ribble and its 753-mile catchment. The Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust, as Ribble Rivers Trust was originally known, was established in 1998 when Philip became chair, a position he retained until the end of 2022.

In the early years, all of the work was delivered by volunteers, led by Philip, who was usually found getting his feet wet and hands dirty. As a dedicated fund raiser, Philip developed grant applications and sourced donations to fund the activities of the Trust.

In 2004 Philip found the funds to appoint the Trust’s first member of staff. Philip had recognised that the work needed to improve and restore the catchment needed an effective team of professional and dedicated employees to address the wide-ranging factors affecting the catchment.

In 2005 Philip secured office space as a donation and subsequently appointed the first members of staff, a Habitat Manager, Education Officer, and a Fisheries Scientist. These three roles demonstrate Philips core strategy which survives to this day; an improved environment for wildlife and people, better public knowledge, access, and appreciation for nature, and strong science to underpin projects. The Trust has now grown to twenty-six employees, still focused on the environment, people and science.

What has Philip helped to achieve?

Thanks to Philip we’ve restored hundreds of hectares of peatland, planted almost 200,000 trees, delivered countless projects with farmers, removed over seventy river blocking weirs, engaged with communities to help them to learn to love their rivers, cleaned up waterways, controlled invasive species, and have even overseen the return of salmon into Burnley after two hundred years.

However, we know that Philips proudest achievement is the Trust’s education programme. With Philips support the Trust have worked with thousands of young people to teach them about their local rivers and the wider environment, helping them access green spaces and sparking a lifelong passion for nature.

Through the meeting of like-minded people, a passion for all rivers, and the experiences of Ribble Rivers Trust, Philip became a founder member and Trustee of the national Rivers Trust. This is our umbrella body who support existing Trusts and try to establish a Rivers Trust for each local river catchment in England and Wales. This saw Philip’s contribution expand from his local landscapes, to countrywide.

Thanks to his drive and dedication hundreds of thousands of people from Lancashire, Yorkshire, and beyond, have benefited from the work of both the Ribble Rivers Trust and The Rivers Trust.

As a modest man, Philip may not ever appreciate the enormity of the contribution he has personally made to make this possible- he has done this for the people and the wildlife our rivers support.

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