Sussex

Duke of Burgundy butterfly 'saviour' awarded

Butterfly enthusiast Neil Hulme
Image caption Butterfly enthusiast Neil Hulme has spent 20 years volunteering

A butterfly enthusiast who almost single-handedly saved a rare species from extinction in Sussex has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Neil Hulme, 56, from Worthing, West Sussex, spent 20 years volunteering to protect butterflies and moths.

The charity Butterfly Conservation said he saved the rare Duke of Burgundy by improving its local habitat on every known site.

Mr Hulme said: "It is a great honour to be recognised in this manner."

He added: "But the conservation of butterflies is always a team effort, so it is equally a recognition of my colleagues and particularly the volunteers of Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch.

"This is also for my parents - my passion for butterflies and dedication to helping them is entirely their fault."

He worked with landowners and the South Downs National Park Authority to help improve the environment for butterflies.

Dirty nappies

Now some colonies have expanded in Sussex to become amongst the largest in the UK, including the Duke.

Butterfly Conservation chief executive Julie Williams said: "I am absolutely delighted Neil is being recognised for his dedication and amazing effort in conserving butterflies and moths over the last 20 years.

"His work on the Duke of Burgundy means this wonderful butterfly now has a future in Sussex."

Mr Hulme now leads a Heritage Lottery Funded project, Fritillaries For The Future, to conserve highly threatened fritillary butterflies across Sussex.

For a few weeks in July, Mr Hulme joins groups of people wandering English woods carrying strange produce, including rotting fish, Stinking Bishop cheese and dirty nappies, to bait the Purple Emperor, one of Britain's most elusive and beautiful butterflies.