Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre

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Simon Aspinall was a great friend of the Middle East – and OSME,  making an important contribution to the ornithology and conservation of the region, especially in the United Arab Emirates. When in the UK he lived at Cley next the Sea, on north Norfolk’s coast, close to the famous Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve.

 In June, to commemorate Simon, the Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre was opened by Sir David Attenborough. A fabulous new building overlooking the Cley Marshes where Simon spent much time looking at birds. The programme that the NWT are planning will involve visits by many school children – something that Simon would have totally approved. Middle East themes will doubtless feature too – helping spread the word that wildlife conservation is international.

Simon Aspinall with Omar Al-Saghier and Ahmed Saeed Suleiman, Socotra 2004. RFPorter.

 Simon would have been delighted about the plans for Birds of the Middle East (Porter & Aspinall) to be published in Arabic – a project with which OSME is proud to be associated.

 An obituary to Simon appeared in Sandgrouse 34 (2012): 91-92.

Sir David Attenborough at the opening of the Simon Aspinall Centre, Cley Marshes, June 2015 credit Andi Sapey

Main photo: Cley Marshes and Aspinall Centre, May 2015, credit Richard Osbourne.


Simon's contribution to Iraq

It is wonderful to see Simon's life being commemorated in this way. I had the opportunity to meet Simon only once but corresponded with him many times over the Iraq ornithological program at Nature Iraq, an Iraqi environmental group and affiliate to BirdLife International. Simon was key to helping to build the capacity of young Iraqi birders and was a mentor to many. He participated in the early training held in Syria for the Iraq program, which was the first time Iraqi conservationist were able to meet and work with experts like Simon and their peers in the region in over 15 years. I hope one day to visit this wonderful new center.

UAE newspaper covers Aspinall centre

The National newspaper in the UAE has today published an article about the Simon Aspinall centre - see:
I visited the centre earlier this month; a wonderful addition to the Cley reserve, offering a breathtaking, grandstand view over the marshes and the abundant birdlife.

Soimon Aspinal contribution to wildlife conservation in Arabia

Over many years, I had the honor to work with Simon over many trips to survey birds and Wildlife in Yemen including Socotra, I and many colleagues in Yemen learnt a great deal out of his knowledge and experience coupled with his keenness and dedication to empower local people towards knowing about and appreciating their wildlife and environment to build up their interest in conservation. I sincerely appreciate the idea and efforts made towards the establishment of "Simon Aspinal Center" in the Cley Marches and hope that it will be replicated in the Arabia and in Socotra to implement his desire in the conservation of birds and Biodiversity in Socotra and to serve as the rail for the conservation' train for future generation in our region.

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