Two sad losses

This week two of my former colleagues at the RSPB have passed away: Roy Taylor and John Lanchbery.  They were both wonderful colleagues full of knowledge and good humour.  They probably didn’t have huge amounts in common apart from their dedication to the environmental cause and their expertise and commitment to it.

Roy Tayler.  Photo: Tim Melling

Roy was a birder, an enthusiast and a do-er.  He has been described by colleagues as a  conservation entrepreneur – a good description.  He passed away early this morning.  He had been ill for many years but his passing was still a shock.

Here are a couple of links to mentions of Roy in this blog in the past: Please support Roy, 28 May 2014 and Spoonbills breeding in Yorkshire, 22 June 2017.

I remember visiting Roy in Sussex in his early years at RSPB when he was studying Song Thrushes. It was a hot day and we ate a lot of ice creams! When I saw Roy at Fairburn Ings last year we both recalled the ice creams.

When one left Roy’s company one always felt that one whould be doing more – like Roy was.  He was dynamic to say the least.

John Lanchbery was a world-renowned expert on climate change.  When he was present at international meetings many journalists took their lines from John because they trusted him and knew he understood both the science and the politics of the subject.

The video above gives a good impression of him.

I last saw John, by chance, on Monday: as I was leaving Kings Cross station I saw him and only had time to exchange a smile and a brief ‘hello!’.  John, I’m told went home on Tuesday feeling a bit ill and passed away on Wednesday night.

John was a lovely man with a gentle way about him and a deep understanding of his subject.


7 Replies to “Two sad losses”

  1. Such sad news. I always enjoyed the story of how John, a smoker, and therefore forced at international meetings to huddle outside, spent many meetings bonding with other smoking outcasts, which included almost the entire Chinese delegation. Because generally most US and European diplomats didn’t smoke they had nothing like his rapport with the Chinese and vice-versa. So he became THE go to person who knew and was trusted by the Europeans, US and the Chinese. A pretty powerful position! A brilliant lobbyist and all round nice guy.

  2. Sorry to read such sad news about Roy. The most enthusiastic of men and an amazing force for nature. I too remember early days with Roy in the RSPB: over a period of a year, Roy and I (along with Tim Telling, Lloyd Austin and others) would rock up at a regular training venue at which we had an opportunity to demonstrate our cue-skills on a full-size snooker table, in the evenings. We were both rubbish, and laughed about it plenty! A sad loss and a remarkable man.

  3. So sad. I didn’t know John, but had the pleasure of meeting Roy when he was doing his trek across the country (in his mobility scooter) to assess the accessibility of RSPB sites. He was kind and full of humour and that’s how I want to remember him. A lovely man who made a difference.

  4. I watched Roy from his teenage years birdwatching at the Woolston Eyes SSSI near his childhood home in Warrington, and was pleased to have trained him as a ringer. He was one of the most enthusiastic and energetic people I have ever met, always pushing for what he wanted to achieve, and usually getting it. Amongst his legacies will be the RSPB’s Dove Stone reserve in the Peak District, where (some twelve years ago) he undertook the initial discussions with United Utilities, the landowners.
    We all knew, and he knew, that the Motor Neuron Disease would get him in the end, so he packed a lot into the five years since his diagnosis, including raising funds and making RSPB reserves in northern England more accessible for other wheelchair users.

  5. I gave Roy his first job at RSPB on the song thrush project. He was the only candidate without a PhD but he outshone everyone and continued in the same vein throughout his career. I remember him sitting down in a pub with a farmer – who was not at all an RSPB supporter – in West Sussex and talking through the song thrush project and RSPB’s approach. Shortly afterwards that farmer was not only a fan but had pledged to leave RSPB a legacy. Roy’s enthusiasm and committment was both compelling and inspirational. We have, very sadly, lost Roy, but he will not be forgotten and his work will live on.

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