A LONG-SERVING nature reserve volunteer who retired in September after a lifetime of service could be cast in bronze if he wins a prestigious award.

Ray Marsh was the knowledgeable warden of Skipper Island in Kirby-le-Soken for a total of 60-years, before letting go of his wildlife-protecting duties back in September.

The well-known custodian took on the responsibility of the nature refuge in 1969 and had journeyed to the island – only accessible by boat for most of the year - more than 10,000 times.

He continued his efforts on behalf of the Essex Wildlife Trust after the organisation inherited the 233-acre island in 1972 and became well-respected during his lengthy tenure.

His conservation efforts have resulted in a colony of rare moths being able to live on the island and he has often had to fend off poachers looking to nab birds and mammals.

Mr Marsh’s highly regarded work and contribution to the protection of wildlife has now led to him being nominated for The Book of Everyone’s Humble Hero accolade.

The personalised gift company’s latest campaign recognises and rewards unique and special people who have gone above and beyond to benefit their community.

To be in the running for the award, Mr Marsh’s former friends and colleagues had to record and submit tribute videos, which they have done in abundance.

Mr Marsh said: “It very nice of them and it is absolutely wonderful.

“I never did anything for recognition, I just used to get on the job - but it wasn’t really a job because I enjoyed it.

“To be recognised is a brilliant honour and to think that people have taken the time to do that for me is lovely - it is very kind of them.”

If veteran caretaker is victorious, a bronze sculpture will be made of him by the internationally acclaimed artist Alex Lumsden.

The idea is the striking art piece will immortalise Mr Marsh’s contribution to his community and the preservation of nature.

He said: “I don’t know if I deserve that - that is usually set for people who have done very great things for the community and I think that is a bit too far really.

“But it is a wonderful thought and I am just so amazed and overwhelmed - it is not the sort of thing that you would expect to happen within your lifetime.”