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 years.

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 Hungary.

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.

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