On 14 November, over 200 of us, along with members of his family and friends gathered together at our Dove Stone reserve, to celebrate the life of our good friend and colleague Roy Taylor. Sadly Roy passed away on 19 October, aged 49.
Roy is well-known for his remarkable work throughout Northern England where he spent his entire career working for the RSPB in a variety of conservation roles, most recently as an Area Manager for our reserves in Yorkshire.
Roy was instrumental in several high profile conservation successes in Northern England such as the creation of our Old Moor nature reserve near Barnsley in South Yorkshire and also key involvement in Woolston Eyes nature reserve in Warrington, where we work to support the Woolston Eyes Conservation Group who manage the site.
When his illness meant that he needed a wheelchair to get around, Roy was still unstoppable. He took on the Coast to Coast wheelchair challenge to raise awareness of the need for disabled access to the countryside and raised £23,000 for the RSPB.
Roy had a vision for doing things on a landscape scale, to deliver multiple benefits for nature and people. He was a hugely influencial force behind the RSPB’s partnership work with United Utilities in Bowland, where he developed a new approach to upland management called the Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP). This work is about managing the uplands in a different way, to not only benefit wildlife, but also to benefit people, by improving water quality. Continuing that thread, he was probably most well known for being the dynamic driving force behind the successful RSPB and United Utilities partnership at Dove Stone, a place Roy held very dear.
At Dove Stone we have been working closely with land owners United Utilities since 2010 to restore the moorland. The upland areas of the Peak District used to boast thriving blanket bogs, but a combination of industrial pollution, managed moorland fires, wild fires, draining for farming and heavy grazing, left them seriously damaged with large areas of exposed bare peat and a limited amount of vegetation and therefore wildlife. Healthy, wet blanket bog plays a vital role not only as a home for nature, but in improving water quality, storing carbon to combat climate change, reducing flooding and increasing fire resilience.
Roy has often been described as a ‘conservation entrepreneur’ – a real one-off and something that many of us aspire to be. His approach always brought energy, new ideas and real delivery to benefit the wildlife and habitats that meant so much to him, and are at the heart of our work.
Nature is in trouble across the UK and the globe, and it’s only with the sort of ideas and approach that people like Roy have brought, that will enable us to make a difference for nature and win those all-important hearts and minds. We can all play our part to help our struggling wildlife, whether that’s at home in our gardens and communities, volunteering on a local conservation project or writing to our MPs. Roy leaves a vast legacy behind him and we’re delighted that we have been able to mark the truly inspiring contribution he has made, by celebrating his life and career in a moving event at his beloved Dove Stone.
At the memorial celebrations, following speeches and photos from his family, friends and colleagues, we then all headed to our Celebration Wood which is located on the edge of Dove Stone reservoir. Here we planted a memorial oak tree with Roy’s ashes beneath it, and wildflowers were added all around the base – in spring these will be popular with butterflies and bees, just as Roy would have wanted it. His tree was placed next to another oak that he and his wife planted here 4 years ago, to celebrate the birth of their son - the first tree to be planted in our Celebration Wood.
Roy was an ambassador for Celebration Wood. It overlooks the tranquil Dove Stone reservoir, against the dramatic backdrop of the surrounding moors where dunlins are making a comeback, and a cliff face where peregrines live. Here, trees can be planted to remember a life well lived or mark a special event. A selection of native trees are available, providing a fitting tribute and a home for wildlife.
Though we are incredibly sad to lose him, Roy will not be forgotten. The challenges faced by our wildlife today are probably greater than they’ve ever been, so together, we will continue the fight to save it, with the passion and determination that Roy always brought.
Last Updated: Monday 26 November 2018