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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Goodbye Dave

David Ireland 1974 - 2017

If you've come along to a Devon Wildlife Trust Exeter Local Group event in the last year, chances are you would have met Dave, whether it was the peregrine watch, stream dipping, or bat walk in the October weather. Or dropping in on the Respect Festival. Or to a recent Cricklepit milling or open day. He would have been there, greeting, introducing, chatting, welcoming.

Or otherwise if you signed up to the Exeter LG newsletter, followed any local wildlife twitter feeds, saw an event poster in the library, came along to Cricklepit gardening group, watched Devon beaver video footage, donated to a DWT campaign, or attended a nature reserve open day, seen a DWT photograph, or appeared in a DWT photograph .... 

Devon Wildlife Trust was a big part of Dave's life; and Dave was a big part of DWT, as a volunteer, then DWT press officer for many years, then once again as a volunteer. For some activities there wasn't a distinction: even on days off, I remember weekends joining in practical tasks, hedgelaying, or building ever more sophisticated nestbox designs. More recently he was busy and very active for the Exeter Local Group.

And not just DWT: also for Devon Local Nature Partnership, helping engineer e-newsletters and 'pollinator palaces' for the Get Devon Buzzing! project. And setting up wildflower planting and bird feeders back home in the communal grounds of his flat.

If ecology is about connections, Dave was a keystone person. The creativity ranged over a whole variety of ways and ideas for bringing wildlife to people and vice versa: interpretation displays, publicity, fundraising, community engagement events. A New Year's resolution to get in shape was a typical example, characteristically developed into a larger DWT fundraising and publicity opportunity. His enthusiasm was the catalyst which lifted plans off the drawing board and made other things happen.

Added value of £ for pounds - from the Express & Echo (original photo: M Parker)

Dave died suddenly in February, the indirect result of a long term illness which he seemed to be conquering.

I have strong memories of the shared times and interests as a colleague and valued friend: wildlife events, fossil hunting, 5 aside football, music (another substantial part of Dave's life), cinema, those all important supportive cups of tea, to recalibrate, discuss and make next plans. Exeter feels a lonelier place without him.

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