Beloved nature scholar Richard Williamson has passed away
Mr Williamson died at his home on Saturday May 21 surrounded by his wife Anne and children Brent and Bryony.
Anne paid tribute to the care and skill of the end of life team at St Wilfrid and thanked them for their good care.
For 57 years, Richard has been sharing his love of flora and fauna and his favorite hiking routes with readers with his first column published on December 4, 1964.Richard, born in Devon, moved to Chichester from Norfolk in September 1963 to work as a nature reserve manager at Kingley Vale – arriving on his BSA motorbike with a few tins of baked beans and £5. While Kingley Vale was his base, his role with The Nature Conservancy saw him work on reserves across the South Downs, including Castle Hill and Lullington Heath in East Sussex, until his retirement at the age 60, in 1995. stopped writing in April of that year due to illness.
Details of his funeral are yet to be confirmed.
Richard Calvert Williamson was born in North Devon on August 1, 1935, the fifth child of author Henry Williamson – Tarka the Otter, Salar the Salmon, The Flax of Dream, the 15 volume A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight and many more pounds – but he was brought up on the North Norfolk coast at Old Hall Farm in Stiffkey, owned and worked by his father for the duration of the Second World War.
He was educated at St Michael’s College, a choir school in Worcestershire, and at Blundell’s School, Tiverton, Devon; but not a scholar, his interest from the earliest years was that of a solitary wanderer watching birds and observing natural history.
After leaving school he joined the RAF and served for five years at radar stations in England, Iraq, Jordan and Cyprus – awarded the General Service Medal during the Suez Crisis – acquiring thus a valuable experience in the rich and wide panorama of life.
On leaving the RAF he worked in forestry and on National Trust nature reserves in North Norfolk and Suffolk to gain experience which would prepare him for a career in what was then the Nature Conservancy, later known as English Nature and now Natural England.
His father encouraged him to write, and while writing his first book, The Dawn is my Brother, and working daytime forestry, Richard wrote a daily wildlife correspondent from 1957 to 1959 for the DailyMail. He has also written for many other national newspapers and magazines over the years.
He became a warden at Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve near Chichester from the fall of 1963 until his retirement in 1995, where he carried out continuous long-term weekly monitoring – and continued until 2018 although retired – nesting birds, butterflies and plants, especially wild ones. orchid colonies. Thousands of visiting schoolchildren have benefited from his enthusiastic teaching.
He also carried out a weekly watch of breeding birds every year in the woods where he lived and also carried out a section for the count of wild birds in Chichester Harbor during the same period. He was instrumental in securing special status for the port of Chichester by preparing a report on its natural history value in the late 1960s.
From 1964 to April 2022 he wrote the weekly wildlife column ‘Nature Trails’ for Chichester Observer and Sisters titles along with other features including for a time a ‘Local Character’ feature featuring highlight many important people past and present in the area; an “Old Car” column in an associated magazine; and ‘Williamson’s Weekly’ in the West Sussex Gazette. His weekly feature “Williamson’s Walk” was also popular with readers.
Over the years he has given hundreds of lectures on various natural history topics. Richard was a well-known and popular local figure whose work is highly regarded by southern readers.
He has been president of the Henry Williamson Society since its inauguration in 1980 where he is held for almost as much affection and esteem as his father.
Besides natural history, his main interests – in fact, his passions – were classical music, vintage cars and literature, and he had a large and varied library reflecting these, as well as three classic Alvis TA14 cars.
Richard married in March 1964 to Anne who manages the Henry Williamson Literary Estate and is herself the author of two biographical books on Henry Williamson and is responsible for most of the content of the HW Society website www. henrywilliamson.co.uk. They have a son, Brent and a daughter, Bryony. Richard and Anne lived in a secluded former gamekeeper’s cottage in the middle of woodland on the estate of the late Edward James, the eccentric millionaire patron of surreal art, with whom they were friends, in an area that is a nature reserve under the aegis of the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Richard also carried out wildlife monitoring on this reserve and chaired its committee.