A FORMER park ranger has received an award championing his contribution to helping more people to take an interest in science.

The Bournemouth Natural Science Society and Museum's inaugural President's Award was presented by Rod Cooper to Richard Hesketh, who used to work as a ranger at Hengistbury Head and now serves as the volunteer co-ordinator for Bournemouth Parks.

Residents were asked to nominate an individual who has contributed the most to the furtherance of science or has inspired to others to do so as a way of showing that the subject is 'thriving' in the town.

Richard was described in his nomination as having charm and enthusiasm which makes him the 'genuine public face' of Bournemouth Parks, as well as being a 'knowledgeable ecologist, ardent ornithologist and passionate astronomer.'

Rod Cooper, president of Bournemouth Natural Science Society and Museum, based in Christchurch Road, said: "I'm delighted that the President's Prize has had such a worthy winner in it's inaugural year.

"For over a century the BNSS's aim has been to inspire people to share our love of science and the natural world and Richard Hesketh is a fine example of that spirit."

Richard started the weekly Monday Meanders session back in 2007, which quickly attracted a local following as the guided walks aimed to introduce the uniqueness of Bournemouth's various parks and open spaces to the public.

As well as informing people about the area's history and natural beauty, Richard aimed to ensure that with the public's help, the parks would continue to survive for future generations to enjoy.

Richard's prize is a year's free membership of Bournemouth Natural Science Society, a £50 book token, a copy of The Natural History of Bournemouth and the Surrounding Area, a certificate and a private tour of the museum.

The president of the society, Rod Cooper, also decided that two additional commendations should be made, with both receiving a certificate and a book.

These were for Bob Mizon for his astronomical work with local schools and as chair of the Campaign for Dark Skies, and Sarah Sumbler, lead technician at St. Peter's Catholic School in Southbourne, for her enthusiastic work engaging young people in science.