TRIBUTES have been paid to an “unforgettable manager” and pioneering conservationist who has suddenly died due to a heart failure.

Philip Marshall, 57, former Mottisfont countryside manager was the landscape manager at Broadlands, in Romsey.

He was responsible for nature conservation as well as the estate’s woodland and the relationship with fishing and agricultural tenants.

Broadlands’ director of estates, Richard Jordan-Baker, said: “He had lots of skills and talents in these areas and he was much ahead of his time. He was very forward-thinking and very confident in his ability.”

Mr Marshall, who was originally from Windsor, attended Merrist Wood Agricultural College in Surrey and was one of the first batch of graduates of its countryside management course.

“He was on the Romsey Flood Alleviation committee to make sure he could share the experience he had,”Mr Jordan-Baker said.

He added: “He was the sort of person you’ll never hear anyone saying anything bad about him. The estate will miss his knowledge and expertise, the community will miss his commitment to helping other organisations whose objective was similar to his and I personally will miss his friendship.”

Mr Marshall managed a portfolio of land including the New Forest and Mottisfont.

Louise Govier, general manager at Mottisfont, said: “His passion, knowledge and ability to think differently will be very much missed, as will the sense of humour and fun that he brought to every occasion.”

Among the acquisitions he had taken on were the Rockford and Ibsley commons and the Foxbury plantation.

He also mentored and trained other conservationists.

Dylan Everett, the National Trust’s current countryside portfolio manager, said: “Phil made a significant contribution to landscape and wildlife in our area. He was incredibly lively and engaging, but everything he did was rooted in solid scientific and environmental understanding, and it has had long-lasting effects on our local countryside.”

Mr Marshall was the original advocate for the trust’s decision to take over active management of the Mottisfont fishery in 2004.

Mr Everett said Mr Marshall championed the transformation of the fishery into an exemplar of sensitive ecological management.

“Even amongst staff who weren’t involved directly with his work, Phil was seen as a guardian of Mottisfont,”Mr Everett said.

His partner of 13 years Debra Newman said he was a “great team player. He always worked as part of a team and he never wanted the limelight of it. He was a very good mentor to people. He was also very funny.”

Mr Marshall died at home at the estate on September 23. Hundreds of people attended his funeral.