Thanks to a generous bequest from the Dickinson family and the support of NHSN members, we provide small grants to help NHSN members carry out natural history projects.

Who can apply for a grant?

Anyone who is a member of NHSN.

How to apply for a grant

Applications to the Dickinson Memorial Fund are open now and close on 28 Feb 2024.

We try to make this process as easy as possible. You should complete the application form and return it by 28 Feb 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact NHSN Director Clare Freeman by email at

Decisions will be made by a grants panel of trustees in mid-March. It can take 6 weeks to decide on an application, and you may be asked for additional information, making the process longer. Your project should be completed within 15 months of the grant being awarded.

How much money can I apply for?

The Dickinson Memorial Fund usually has around £1-2,000 per year to award in grants. From this, we expect to fund at least 2 or 3 projects. As a result, we rarely provide a grant of more than £1,000.

What can the money be used for?

Projects should aim to protect, conserve or investigate natural history in North East England. Funds can be used to purchase tools, educational resources and equipment, but cannot be used to pay for your own time.

Payment is usually given on an expense-claim basis. This means that you may need to pay for any costs yourself and claim the money back by providing proof of expenditure.

What is the Dickinson Memorial Fund?

The Dickinson Memorial Fund was originally set up in 2005 by Elisabeth Pestell (nee Dickinson) to celebrate the 137 years’ service her family had given to NHSN; Tony her father, Adolphus, her grandfather and Isaac, her great grandfather were all devoted honorary officers including honorary legal advisors, Trustees and Vice Presidents.

I am delighted to have been awarded a small grant from the NHSN’s Dickinson Memorial Fund to help erect Swift nest boxes in Monkseaton and engage the local community with these wonderful birds. 
We are lucky to have a good number of Swifts breeding in roofspaces across Monkseaton and the wider coastal area. My project seeks to bolster existing numbers by creating a colonial nesting opportunity at the local GP surgery. 
As well as helping the birds directly, this is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Swifts amongst the community, helping local people to both enjoy and protect these fabulous birds. 

Sam Fisher, Monkseaton

Projects supported across the North East

Emperor moth with wings spread
Emperor Moth © Cain Scrimgeour

Upland moths at Redesdale

In 2020, your membership supported NHSN member, Cain Scrimgeour, to engage and inspire local landowners at Redesdale. Through the purchase of a generator, conservationists were able to bring the interactive excitement of moth recording to a wider audience, whilst surveying moths in the poorly recorded upland region.

Restoring Whin grassland at Embleton Quarry 

At Embleton Quarry, funds from NHSN’s Dickinson Memorial Fund were used to purchase vital tools, providing volunteers with the equipment necessary to improve the site for wildlife and achieve the long-term goal of volunteers seeking to restore species-rich grassland with greater diversity within scrubby areas.

Northern Marsh Orchids
Northern Marsh Orchid © Ellie Coleman
Smooth newt © James Common

Amphibians at Tanfield Lea

In 2019, NHSN member, Sacha Elliot, working on behalf of Friends of Tanfield Lea, was awarded grant support to purchase vital equipment used to monitor amphibian populations at Tanfield Lea in County Durham, and equipment necessary for habitat management.

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