Oswestry Nature Festival

Hen harrier by Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

In collaboration with Shropshire Wildlife Trust and over the course of our nature-themed summer exhibition, we present (between 5 July & 24 Aug) a programme of inspirational talks on wildlife conservation at Oswestry’s first Festival of Nature.

Notable speakers include Iolo Williams from BBC’s Springwatch; David Attenborough’s top Arctic cameraman Doug Allan; best-selling nature writer Patrick Barkham; bee writers Alison Benjamin and Penny Metal; naturalist and broadcaster Paul Evans; rock-climbing countryman Jim Perrin; and Oswestry’s own raptor expert Keith Offord. A final discussion/debate will be chaired by the Guardian’s Environment Editor Damian Carrington.

You can book individually for an event below

Tickets can be collected on the door for online orders.

FRIDAY 5 July, 7.30pm £8

Paul Evans is one of Britain’s greatest observers of Nature, a poet, musician, Radio 4 natural history broadcaster, and the author of a new book How To See Nature. His weekly Guardian Country Diary from Wenlock Edge has achieved cult status and has put Shropshire on the map. He will be in conversation with legendary rock climber, wilderness writer, and fellow Country Diarist Jim Perrin whose observations of Snowdonia and north Wales and talks on the beauty and importance of wild places are famed for their insights. Expect a thought-provoking start to Oswestry’s first Festival of Nature.

TUESDAY 16 JULY, 7.30pm £8


Iolo is Wales’ best known naturalist, a regular presenter of BBC’s  Spring, Autumn and Winter Watch TV series and an outspoken conservationist and powerful campaigner for wildlife. He lives near Newtown and his talk will be about his early days working as a Species Officer for the RSPB –  from the farmer who held an egg collector over a 40-foot cliff,  to a colleague who kept half a village awake with his snoring, and an oyster catcher that briefly held up Prince Charles’ train. 

Sponsored by Stans Superstore

SATURDAY 27 JULY, 7.30pm £8

Doug Allan is David Attenborough’s favourite Arctic cameraman, famous for his films of polar bears, seals and ice. He has been to both poles, had close encounters with a walrus and spent five winters and eight summers in Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey.
“He is not as other men”, says Attenborough. “He cheerfully endures conditions more uncomfortable and for longer periods than anyone I know. He has an uncanny understanding of animals that tells him what the animals are about to do before they actually do it”. Come to hear extraordinary stories.

Sponsored by Stokes of England Ltd

FRIDAY 2 AUGUST, 7.30pm £8

Tucked away in the Welsh borders not far from Oswestry there is a beautiful, ancient 13-acre wood, once long inhabited by a hermit. Massive stands of beech, oak, ash and cherry, dating back hundreds of years provide the perfect habitat for a wide variety of species. Ornithologist Keith Offord, who travels the world leading wildlife tours and monitoring birds of prey, will tell the inspiring story of this secret place. Against the backdrop of disappearing habitats, he will show how good things really are happening all around us.

PENNY METAL & WILL HAWKES (a change to our advertised programme.)
FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 7.30pm £8

What wildlife is there in a small inner-city park?  Penny Metal spent five years observing a small patch in South London and identified a remarkable 555 species of bugs, beetles and other insects. She will introduce us to her remarkable neighbours, tiny residents that include homeless bees, solitary wasps, spiders that jump to catch their prey, harlequin ladybirds and snail-killing flies. Penny’s book, Insectinside – Life in the Bushes of a Small Peckham Park, is published by Independent Publishing Network with over 600 colour plates.

Penny will also be talking with Will Hawkes. As a boy, Will Hawkes became fascinated by the many bees and insects to be found on his home patch in the Ceiriog Valley and the Berwyns. Now he is doing a PhD in insect migrations at Exeter. He has worked in Britain for Buglife, and also researched insects in the the Alps, the Pyrenees and Borneo.

FRIDAY 16 AUGUST, 7.30pm £8

Journalist and nature writer, Patrick spent a year trying to spot every species of butterfly that is known to breed in the British Isles: 59 at the last count. Out of it came his book, The Butterfly Isles: A Summer in Search of Our Emperors & Admirals, organised by season and detailing the lives and background histories of these magical creatures in all their diversity and beauty. Also on his journey Patrick meets an assortment of butterfly watchers, naturalists and scientists, both past and present. The book contains colour plates (to help you do your own spotting!) as well as a selection of the author’s own photographs.

Patrick also discusses climatic issues, urban sprawl, changes in farming methods and the delicate balance of nature. He looks ahead to a future in which many of our butterflies will struggle to find resources to survive.

Patrick writes for the Guardian on natural history, and has travelled the world observing and celebrating animal life in the wild and in danger. His other books include Badgerlands and Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago.


FRIDAY 23 AUGUST, 7.30pm Free Ticketed Event
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Why are insect populations collapsing around the world? Why are there fewer birds and frogs? What is happening to Nature in Shropshire and the Welsh Borders? To round off Oswestry’s first Festival of Nature, John Vidal, former Guardian environment editor will moderate a major debate at the Willow Gallery about the steep decline of the natural world and what we as individuals can do. Entry will be free, but you will need a ticket. 

Guest Panelists
Howard Davies – Chief Executive (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)
Charlotte Hollins (Fordhall Organic Farm)
Shropshire Wildlife Trust

Sponsored by Treflach Farm

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