Dinosaur Isle at Sandown is to celebrate Britain’s ‘greatest dinosaur hunter’, the Reverend William Fox, thanks to the Royal Society’s Local Heroes scheme.

It is among 15 museums and galleries from all over the country selected under the grant scheme – which provides funding of up to £3,000 for exhibitions and events that reveal stories of scientific brilliance.

Dinosaur Isle will celebrate the forgotten story of Rev Fox (1813 to 1881), a Victorian dinosaur hunter, with self-guided tours to take visitors off the beaten track around the area where he conducted some of his extraordinary fossil hunting.

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Rev Fox was curate of St Mary’s Church, Brighstone, and lived in Myrtle Cottage. He amassed a collection of more than 500 dinosaur bones which he collected along the coast between Atherfield and Compton Bay. On his death his collection was acquired by the Natural History Museum (London). He personally discovered more species of dinosaurs, and has more species named after him than any other Englishman.

Dinosaur Isle curator, Dr Martin Munt, said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded this grant by the Royal Society. It will make possible a special initiative inviting the public to celebrate the contribution of Rev William Fox to the early days of dinosaur fossil collecting. The trail, guided walks and loans of original fossils collected by Fox will help bring his legacy home to the Island community.”

Executive member with responsibility for culture, Councillor Shirley Smart, said:

“This grant is great recognition for Dinosaur Isle, and acknowledges its special place and that of the Isle of Wight in this area of science. We are honoured that the Royal Society has chosen to award this grant and that it can be used to broaden people’s knowledge of the important role played by Rev William Fox.”

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Professor Jonathan Ashmore, chair of the Royal Society Local Heroes judging panel, added:

“The Royal Society Local Heroes scheme is a fantastic nationwide celebration of past and present scientists and their influential achievements right across the UK. The UK has a rich and diverse history of science which provides important routes for modern day society to deepen its understanding of the modern world.

“Science drives local and international economies and is an important ingredient in our history, identity and cultural heritage, which is why it’s so important for it to be recognised through schemes such as Local Heroes. The scheme will unite and encourage local communities to run creative workshops demonstrating local scientific triumphs, and will attract audiences to engage with the life and work of scientists in their area.”

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