A lasting legacy

The Ted Ellis Trust was established as a charity to continue the legacy left behind by Ted Ellis, one of the true great British naturalists.

What we do

Our main aim is to preserve and manage the incredible site at Wheatfen as a nature reserve to be enjoyed by all. Ted spent so much of his time conserving, studying and being amazed by this wonderful area, and we want to ensure that others from the present and future generations can do the same.

Will and volunteers

Will and volunteers digging and bridge-building

There are five members of the Trust and we meet regularly to plan the management of the site, organise events and work towards securing a future for this internationally important reserve. If you feel you have the appropriate skills and knowledge to be a future trustee, please contact us as we’d love to hear from you.

We employ a Reserve Warden, Will Fitch, who along with a group of dedicated volunteers is responsible for detailed ecological management and planning of this unique reserve along with undertaking practical conservation work such as coppicing and clearing scrub and maintaining the network of footpaths and fences around the reserve.

Becoming a Friend and donations

As the Ted Ellis Trust is a registered charity (296966), it heavily relies on the Friends and contributions by others to continue looking after Wheatfen.

wheatfen dawn david nobbs

Wheatfen at dawn by David Nobbs

Becoming a Friend of The Ted Ellis Trust is a fantastic way to show your support and contribute to the upkeep of this truly special place. Membership costs for 2019/2020 are £12 for individuals, £8 for students and £18 for families. Friends receive an annual printed newsletter, natural history articles and lots of gratitude from The Trust!

If you would like to join please download and fill out this membership form, and either leave it with the warden or post to the membership secretary: Mrs G Walpole, Aramonda, Bawburgh Road, Easton, Norwich, NR9 5EF.

Other ways that you can support the Trust include donating when you visit (although entry to the reserve is free) and coming along to eventsDonations can be given on-site using the box near the car park. These donations provide vital income so that the reserve can be maintained, improved and protected for future generations to enjoy.

The story after Ted

Following Ted’s death in 1987, the Ted Ellis Trust was established that year to manage and protect this precious wetland for future generations. The first Warden was John Tooley who was appointed in 1991, however sadly John became ill the following year and died in 1993.

David Nobbs in the reeds

Ex-warden David Nobbs in the reeds

The previous year David Nobbs had arrived fresh from studying conservation at Otley College in Suffolk. He became the new Warden of Wheatfen and began the herculean task of restoring the overgrown and silted dyke system that criss-crossed the reserve and was (and still is) essential for its well-being. The reedbeds too had to be cleared of scrub, another mammoth task.

With the help of a team of volunteers assembled by David, the reserve was gradually and lovingly restored to health. Pathways were laid out and boardwalks and bridges built to enable visitors to explore the delights of the wetland, woods and broads. Together with the Trust’s Chairman John Ellis, son of Ted, the foundations were laid for the Wheatfen we know today. For 25 years David lovingly cared for the Reserve. It was often hard physical work in all weathers. So when he finally retired in 2017 it closed a door on another incredible chapter in the history of Wheatfen. David was also a fine photographer whose pictures helped to capture the magical essence of this unique nature reserve, visit our explore page to see some of his images.