A tribute to John Somerville from his friends in the Knutsford Ornithological Society
We first met John in 1974 when he attended one of the early
meetings of the Knutsford Ornithological Society. He signed up as
a member on that first visit and from then on became one of the
Society's stalwarts; later serving as our chairman for a number of
He came along to all our indoor events and field trips. John was
instrumental in the planning of our first foreign birding expedition
to Majorca. There followed a series of other European adventures
with him on the Spanish mainland and to the Greek islands and
But it was back home in the U.K. where John seemed happiest,
especially on Lindisfarne and in Scotland. A trip to the latter often
included an ascent of one of the Cairngorm mountains. John was
always the first to the top, sitting alongside the summit cairn with a
'what kept you look' on his face as the rest of us staggered up the
last few painful feet. John just didn't do slow.
He embraced technology early and particularly impressed us
by being the first to acquire a phone that actually made calls
from his car! But he still retained a fine understanding of the work/
life balance. Tony Usher, remembers John taking a call from the
office on his new car phone, reminding him of a meeting in
Manchester later that morning. 'OK' said John 'I'm on my way but
the traffic is a bit heavy at the moment.' He was actually driving
alongside Loch Garten, in the Scottish Highlands at the time.
'They'll manage without me', he said with a mischievous grin.
John was interested in all aspects of natural history, not just birds.
He was our go to man for the identification of any flowers we
happened upon during our field trips. He patiently tried to impart
some of his knowledge to us and was tolerant when we frequently
did not live up to his expectations. We shall miss John's valiant
attempts to tutor us, along with his positive and straightforward
outlook on life. But I am sure we shall speak of him. Often.