Sir Martin Wood (1927-2021)

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our founder and patron Sir Martin Wood (1927-2021).

Sir Martin’s contribution – not just to Earth Trust, but to the Oxfordshire community as a whole – has been transformational.

Martin and Audrey Wood

Sir Martin and Lady Audrey Wood co-founded Earth Trust in 1982 (previously known as Northmoor Trust for Countryside Conservation) with the land acquisition of Little Wittenham Wood, after years of appreciating the challenges faced by nature and the environment.

Sir Martin and Lady Audrey recognised that, as well as being important wildlife habitat, this was a valuable opportunity to provide access to the countryside for local communities.

From our earliest pioneering beginnings, Earth Trust has grown to be an advocate and demonstration of people connecting with the natural world.

Chief Executive of Earth Trust, Jayne Manley, said:

“Martin’s love of the environment, his appreciation of the benefits of being close to nature and his desire to make it better for everyone have shaped the Earth Trust into what it is today. Just as he pioneered in science, he wanted to support innovation in thought and action. Alongside this he understood that Earth Trust was a “start-up” charity, bringing with it similar challenges to those faced by small businesses. We are proud to have been founded by such an influential and inspirational figure, and I am personally privileged to have had the benefit of lively discussions on ideas around connecting people to nature. He was much loved by staff, volunteers and visitors and will be missed enormously by all.”

Our thoughts and deepest sympathy lie with Martin’s widow, Audrey, and their children Robin, Jonny, Sarah and their families.

Read the joint statement from Earth Trust and sister charities The Oxford Trust and Sylva Foundation.


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Responses (7)

  1. Jo Treweek
    25th November 2021 at 4:03 pm · Reply

    I was so saddened to hear of Martin’s death. He and Audrey were incredibly generous to me as a young graduate and helped me on my path towards a lifelong career in ecology and conservation. Much of what we explored at little wittenham is mainstream Agri-environment stuff now but he had the vision to support it when it wasn’t . He had a wonderful sense of humour and the most infectious enthusiasm. I know he humoured me a lot and will always be grateful to have known him.

  2. Dr Maurice Bichard
    30th November 2021 at 12:27 pm · Reply

    All of us in Oxfordshire, and well beyond, must be so grateful that Sir Martin chose to use some of the proceeds of his commercial success to preserve and develop such a wonderful piece of our local environment. Thank you.
    Dr Maurice Bichard

  3. Richard Pullen
    30th November 2021 at 12:29 pm · Reply

    What sad news but also what an exceptional life so well lived. It seems only yesterday we were celebrating his and Audrey’s 90th birthdays. Sir Martins impact has been felt in so many ways there are too many to list. His and Audrey’s thoughtful generosity will benefit mankind for generations to come. The World would be a far better place if successful people could follow the example he has set. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.
    Richard Pullen

  4. Barrie Teasdale
    30th November 2021 at 12:30 pm · Reply

    It was with sorrow that I heard of the death of Martin.

    I first met Martin in January 2005 shortly after my appointment at Earth Trust. Martin wandered into the office, at the Manor at the time, introduced himself, and in his informal manner told me not to use ‘Sir’. He explained the reasons why he and Audrey had set up the Trust, clearly identifying his passion for trees and forestry research.

    Martin was curious to understand what prompted me to apply for the role at the Trust. I explained that apart from a desire to see the environment protected, I was keen to help development in the Trust’s objectives of expanding knowledge of the countryside, especially with the programmes they ran for schools. He suggested that we should take a walk around the Trust’s land so that I could better understand how he and Audrey wanted the Trust to develop in the future. A few weeks later we did walk around Paradise Wood, Martin asking searching questions, but in a very supportive manner. He wondered if the nightingales would return.

    When the Trust moved to the new offices Martin would occasionally pop in, always taking time to chat with whoever was in the office at the time.

    Martin and I didn’t always have the same viewpoint on a subject but understood each other’s position, accepting that we both wanted the best for The Trust.

    I will treasure my fond memories of Martin.

    Barrie Teasdale
    Director of Finance and Administration 2005-2014

  5. Colin Johnstone
    30th November 2021 at 12:31 pm · Reply

    Although I never met Sir Martin I, as others, have much to thank him for.

    I have my feet firmly entrenched in both the EarthTrust and the Sylva Foundation with both organisations enhancing my day to day life.

    I recently purchased “The New Sylva” which Sir Martin forwarded. It includes the following words,

    “As an engineer by profession, I am always excited by newly emerging technologies. But in my later years, my passion and interest have come back to focus on the natural world” (like myself, though on a much lesser scale) and “…the creation of a new wood culture that may help to ensure a sustainable and enjoyable future for us all”

    A great life lived, no doubt, and my thoughts are with his family.

    Colin Johnstone

  6. Julian Sayers
    1st December 2021 at 9:08 am · Reply

    We owe Sir Martin a huge debt of gratitude for his foresight and financial support which have delivered the excellent work undertaken over many years by the Northmoor Trust and the Earth Trust for the benefit of the local and wider environment together with the associated communities. Without his vision and enthusiasm society would have been all the poorer. I am sure his legacy will be reflected upon by the generations who will follow in his footsteps.

  7. Sally Woodgate
    16th December 2021 at 12:50 pm · Reply

    Such sad news indeed, but not the end of Martin’s enormous influence on so many aspects of life, both ours and worldwide.
    The inspiration of the Martin/Audrey team has given so much to humanity through Oxford Instruments as well as so much to the appreciation of nature and the environment, which continues through his family and Earth Trust.

    We think of Martin as we recall our memories and are so happy to see his work continue.

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