The award was originally presented in 2012 as a lifetime achievement award to David Stapleford, a pioneer of red squirrel conservation.
Following his passing, the award was returned to the RSST to be used in his memory.
Gerard was chosen from a hugely impressive number of nominations for his work across all aspects of red squirrel conservation and habitat restoration within the UK.
Gerard, who is a volunteer for the Glens Red Squirrel Group the second longest Red Squirrel conservation group in Northern Ireland, Gerard was nominated by the Glens group for the outstanding work he does with the the group across the Glens and beyond supporting and advising those interested in red squirrel conservation.
During his years volunteering, Gerard has worked endlessly to conserve native red squirrels, he has played a key role in many projects including educational and habitat enhancement projects within Glenshek and across the nine Glens of Antrim.
Mark Henderson from the Red Squirrel Survival Trust travelled to the Glens of Antrim to present the David Stapleford Award for Volunteer of the Year to Greard.
It was Mark’s first time in Northern Ireland and he visited many of the Glens Red Squirrel Groups feeding sites and projects across the Glens. He visited Cregagh Wood Hide in Glendun where the hide is managed by the GRSG. While there along with Gerard, Mark was able to see two Red Squirrels feeding and playing together.
Mark Henderson commented: “We’re delighted to present Gerard with the Volunteer of the Year award. Gerard and his team’s devotion to the protection of red squirrels is evident in the work he is doing in County Antrim. Red squirrels rely hugely on the support of volunteers, and we enjoy being able to celebrate the work they do.”
Gerard said: “I was surprised to be nominated let alone win. I’m chuffed and embarrassed in equal measures. I think it’s a reflection of what we do as a group rather than what I do myself.”
To find out more about the Glens Red Squirrel Group visit https://glensredsquirrelgroup.com/ or go to Facebook and search ‘Glens Red Squirrel Group’.