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The Marsh Awards are the brainchild of Brian Marsh, chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, who wanted to recognise those people who make a real difference in various fields. Awards are made annually and the 2013 winner of the Marsh Palaeontology Award is Peter Austin.
In the award citation it was remarked that Peter, together with his wife Joyce, had been an outstanding member of the amateur paleontological community since the mid-1980s. His collecting work at the Writhlington Colliery in Somerset led to the discovery of over 1000 new fossil arthropod specimens while a large collection of fossil plants was also made, many of which were donated to the Museum of Wales. Peter also played a major part in the establishment of the geological nature reserve at Writhlington.
More recently he and his wife worked on the Cretaceous sediments of the Wealden in Surrey and Sussex becoming the focus of the local amateur and professional community through collecting, fieldwork and in writing the Wealden Newsletter.
Peter has played a key role in representing the interests of collectors and in raising awareness of the need for conservation and of access to sites for collectors, groups and museums.
In his acceptance speech Peter expressed himself honoured to receive the award and thanked both the Marsh Christian Trust and the Natural History Museum.
In a long list of people to thank he gave especial mention to Bob Symes, former Keeper of Mineralogy at the Natural History Museum, who encouraged his interest in palaeontology, and to Ed Jarzembowski, a fossil interest specialist who sparked the beginning of the Writhlington project. His biggest vote of thanks went to his wife Joyce for her constant support and companionship.
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