It started here

Miranda Krestovnikoff© Jasper Matthias

To celebrate 50 years of the RSPB’s Local Groups, the North East London branch will be joined by the conservation charity’s president in South Woodford this June. David Littlejohns invites you to the party

Big national organisations don’t always think too much about the local scene. But 50 years ago, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was an exception, and so started its first Local Group, known as the Epping Forest Group. Others soon followed, and the idea has now spread so widely that there are over 140 RSPB Local Groups dotted all over the UK.

So this year, on 14 June, we shall be celebrating having started this movement in 1969, and we have separated Miranda Krestovnikoff, the president of the RSPB, from her scuba diving gear to join us for the celebration. We will have displays of memorabilia from back then, including recollections from Richard Oakman, who was present from the outset. There will also be a special raffle and refreshments, including a 50th anniversary cake for Miranda to cut.

Miranda’s passion for conservation began while studying zoology at Bristol University. She has been well known as a radio and (since 1998) a TV presenter, notably in the award-winning Coast series. She specialises in natural history programmes and you may know her as a resident wildlife expert on the BBC’s The One Show. She has fitted in all this while caring for her children and playing the flute in a local orchestra in Bristol.

Eventually, after some years of meeting for talks and trips to good places for birds, support for that early Epping Forest Group fell away. Yet nationally, the picture was very different, as more and more people were becoming aware of the pleasure and benefits available from contact with the natural world.

Nature is a mainstream issue these days and there is no denying that it is at a crossroads now – still a source of great benefits, but open to many threats, ranging from being hard-boiled by climate change to submersion in a tide of plastic.

So, not surprisingly, after a short gap, about 10 years ago it was time to start again. This time, the name was the North East London RSPB Local Group, but it covers much the same area and even includes some of the same people.

You do not have to be a member of the RSPB to join in. It is now a thriving and friendly group, which meets every month from October to June to hear illustrated talks, to walk in local areas with notable birdlife and to get to know more about birds and other wildlife. And if something is especially good, we post on Twitter or Facebook. But we would very much like to meet you in person at one of our future events.

Miranda will be helping the North East London Local Group celebrate 50 years of RSPB Local Groups at the Woodford Memorial Hall, 209 High Road, South Woodford on 14 June from 7pm (tickets: £11.25; schoolchildren: free). To book tickets, visit swvg.co/miranda. For more information on the group, call 020 8989 4746
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