Helen Brotherton CBE passed away peacefully on 6th August in Poole Hospital. Helen was a pioneer of nature conservation, one of the founders of Dorset Wildlife Trust and key supporter of the National Trust, being instrumental in securing the purchase of Brownsea Island.
Born in Lincolnshire in 1914, Helen Brotherton moved to Dorset after the Second World War, where she was an outstanding champion for wildlife. A knowledgeable field naturalist and keen educator, she was actively involved with the RSPB and Portland Bird Observatory as well as serving as an advisor to the magazine Dorset Life and as a magistrate.
In 1961, when the National Trust had the opportunity to take on Brownsea Island, Helen Brotherton persuaded the people of Poole to pledge money to secure the island's future, with a newly formed Dorset Naturalists' Trust (now Dorset Wildlife Trust) to manage nearly half of it for wildlife. Chris Thain, Dorset Wildlife Trust's manager of the Brownsea Island nature reserve, said: "Helen Brotherton's most triumphant legacy is Brownsea Island itself. She was a remarkable lady and I was very privileged to know and work with her. Her passion for Dorset's wildlife, enthusiasm for Brownsea Island and vast knowledge will be greatly missed."
Helen Brotherton received an OBE in 1963 for her services to the Dorset Naturalists' Trust and in 1984 she went back to Buckingham Palace to receive the CBE for services to the National Trust. This was followed by the Christopher Cadbury Medal 'for services for the advancement of nature conservation in the British Islands' from the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and the year later Helen accepted an Honorary Doctorate at Bournemouth University. In 2007, she received the Octavia Hill medal for her outstanding contribution to the National Trust. In 2008, she established the annual Helen Brotherton Award for Volunteering at Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Staff and trustees of Dorset Wildlife Trust are extremely sad to lose their founder, their President and, until recent weeks, an extremely active helper and advisor in all areas of their work. Simon Cripps, Chief Executive, said : "This is the end of an era. Miss Brotherton was an exceptional lady who achieved so much in her long and eventful life. Dorset is a better place because of her work in securing the most threatened parts of our county and we all owe her a debt of gratitude."
click here for full obituary of Helen Brotherton
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620 or Simon Cripps on 07500 104759. A full account of Helen Brotherton's life and achievements will be available shortly. Other arrangements have yet to be made.
More about Helen Brotherton's awards
1 January 1943 British Empire Medal (Civil)
In recognition for her services in connection with the Warwickshire Sick Bays, as a Member of the the Women's Voluntary Services for Civil Defence. She received this award at Buckingham Palace on 23rd February 1943.
8 June 1963 OBE (Civil)
For her services as Honorary Secretary of the Dorset Naturalists' Trust. Invested at Buckingham Palace by The Queen on 30th October 1963.
16th June 1984 CBE (Civil)
On retirement as Chairman of the Wessex Regional Committee of the National Trust. Invested at Buckingham Palace 31st July 1984