BROOK Meadow is a tranquil oasis just a few yards away from a noisy, busy road.
The five-acre site off the A259 in Emsworth is made up of grassland, surrounded by woodlands and flanked by two streams.
But if retired academic Dr Brian Fellows had not been looking for a hobby it may not be the protected nature reserve it is now.
Dr Fellows’ efforts to rally volunteers over the past 14 years have earned him an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to nature.
The 77-year-old, whose Emsworth home is close to the nature reserve, off the Palmer’s Road car park, said: ‘Back in 2000 it was a lovely meadow but it was a wilderness.
‘There were threads of building development going on and I didn’t want this to be at risk. I wanted to do something to protect the land for the wildlife and the community.’
Dr Fellows managed to rally other volunteers, including Frances Jannaway who is now the coordinator of Havant Tree Wardens – a voluntary role.
She said: ‘I think it’s very well deserved. He has had a major influence on the environment in Emsworth and beyond. He is an amateur who has taught himself over many years and he has such enthusiasm that he enthuses other people.
‘Brian also set up the Emsworth Waysides group which protects the roadside verges in the area.
‘You will often see him walking around Emsworth, Stansted and West Sussex doing wildlife surveys and looking at birds – he is a twitcher.
‘I don’t know where he finds the time. He is a force for nature.’
The meadow is teeming with wildlife, including moles, water voles, the occasional roe deer, kestrels, buzzards and insects.
Although Dr Fellows is no longer involved in physical work he still runs the website, carries out the wildlife surveys and keeps the online wildlife diaries up to date.
He said: ‘It is a great local asset. It’s well recognised locally by naturalists and botanists. It’s become such a success, it’s amazing.
‘What I’m most proud of is that it’s brought the local community in contact with nature and wildlife.
‘I spent most of my life teaching psychology and I wanted something very different to occupy my retirement.
‘It’s lovely to be able to walk through it. And I’m proud of the award.’
Events take place throughout the year to keep the meadow maintained.
Work sessions are held on the first Sunday and third Thursday of the month, from 10am to midday.
All tools and refreshments are provided.
On July 13 herbalist Steve Taylor will lead a guided walk around the meadow explaining which plants have healing properties.
Go to brook-meadow.hampshire.org.uk.