Friends walk 70 miles through Sussex countryside in memory of leading Ashdown Forest conservationist

WATCH: ITV Meridian's Malcolm Shaw reports from Ashdown Forest

Friends and family of one of the region's leading conservationists are staging a 70-mile walk in his memory.

James Adler was the chief executive of Ashdown Forest in Sussex until his sudden death last year at the age of 42.

His former colleagues are raising funds to support projects that were close to James's heart.

Friend Beth Morgan told ITV News that James was “so knowledgeable about nature and conservation” from “Ashdown Forest itself to the bigger picture across the South East of the UK and beyond”.

James’ Walk' started at Climping Beach in West Sussex on Thursday, 25 April, and is due to end with a memorial gathering on Ashdown Forest in the High Weald at 2pm on Sunday, 28 April 28.

Walkers were asked to wear hats as James Adler loved wearing a blue and yellow bobble hat. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Mark Pearson, the charity’s new chief executive, said: "James was an amazing man. He was passionate about the forest and had been working on a strategy to safeguard Ashdown Forest and its biodiversity for future generations.

"He was also deeply involved in establishing and growing the Weald to Waves project, a nature recovery corridor across Sussex that is vital to forging connections for our fragmented wildlife and boosting biodiversity alongside food production and thriving communities.

"His death came as a shock to so many and we all miss him terribly. This four-day walk is our way of thanking James for everything he did."

The walk is raising funds for The Ashdown Forest Foundation, with more than £3,000 so far collected in online donations.

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