Ceremony marks end of Wigan conservationist's inspiring career

A popular Wigan conservationist brought the curtain down on his career helping nature with a planting ceremony at a local reserve.

Graham Workman and Becci Wilson
Graham Workman and Becci Wilson

Graham Workman is retiring after four decades in local government protecting wildlife and promoting the benefits of the great outdoors.

His final act in his current role as biodiversity services manager at Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles was to plant a number of elm trees at Low Hall Local Nature Reserve in Platt Bridge.

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The tree has suffered badly in recent years due to the devastating Dutch Elm Disease and the young elms being put in the soil are more resistant to it.

The tree is a vital habitat for vulnerable species such as the white letter hairstreak butterfly and is itself a conservation priority as the disease has caused such a sharp decline.

Mr Workman took part in the tree planting alongside Becci Wilson, who will succeed him leading the borough’s conservation efforts at Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles.

Mr Workman joined the council four decades ago and has since worked in a variety of nature, leisure and education roles with both the town hall and for a number of arms-length management organisations. He spoke of how much he has enjoyed his work and seeing how the benefits of spending time in the abundant countryside around the borough has become better known.

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Mr Workman said: “This has never been work, it has been like a paid hobby. Working for the wildlife and people of Wigan is just brilliant.

“I always wax lyrical about Wigan and it’s such a special place for wildlife.

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“Wigan is one of the best places in Greater Manchester for the amount of potential it has got.

“It has places to walk and chill and there’s now so much proof of how walking in the countryside is good for mental health and reduces stress because it releases chemicals in the brain making you feel good.

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“There’s never a dull moment working with nature, every day and every job is different.”

Colleagues spoke of his impact and said he would be a hard act to follow.

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His successor Ms Wilson said: “Working with Graham has been a privilege. His knowledge of the natural world and passion for the environment is immeasurable.

“He has inspired behaviour change in communities and shared his vast knowledge to improve the world we live in. I’m hugely grateful for everything he has taught me in our time working together.”