Queen's Birthday Honours 2021: Isle of Man ornithologist becomes MBE

image sourceKay Collister
image captionChris Sharpe recently spent five seasons at a bird observatory in Sweden

The man behind the Isle of Man's first bird atlas has been honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Ornithologist Chris Sharpe said being appointed an MBE had come as a "complete bolt out of the blue".

Mr Sharpe set up a charity dedicated to creating a complete list of the island's wild birds.

He is joined on the honours list by Chief Minister Howard Quayle, who has been appointed a CBE for his efforts dealing with Brexit and Covid-19.

Mr Sharpe left a 20-year career in the civil service to pursue his lifelong passion for ornithology, which he has said stemmed from childhood days spent watching birds on the playing fields at Willaston Primary School.

His charity's initial work culminated in the publication of the Manx Bird Atlas in 2006, which gathered together information recorded over more than 15 years by a team of dedicated twitchers and formed a baseline by which changes in the island's bird populations could be monitored.

image captionMr Quayle has announced he will be retiring from politics in September

He said the nicest thing to have come from his charitable work was the "absolutely huge jump" in the number of bird sightings reported on the island, which has leapt from about 3,000 in the late 1990s to about 70,000 in 2017.

He is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the charity, but is currently working "ad hoc" on an update to the 2006 atlas, he said, adding that while he was "very honoured" to become an MBE, the work was a team effort.

Mr Quayle, who announced recently he would not be seeking re-election in September's polls, has held the post of chief minister since 2016 and was first elected as an MHK in 2011.

He had previously served as president of the Manx National Farmers' Union for five years.

Also honoured on the island was pianist Marilyn Cannell, who received the British Empire Medal for more than 50 years of service to the Manx Music Festival.

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