My Incredible Dad
It breaks my heart to write that on Thursday 16th July 2020, my incredible Dad, Andy, passed away peacefully at home.
As a family, we were informed in mid-June that Dad had advanced terminal cancer - news that was incredibly hard to process and a huge shock to us all. We were very lucky to be able to visit him in hospital soon after and a week later we got Dad home in time for his birthday and Fathers Day. Over the following weeks we all got to spend some quality time with Dad before he very sadly passed.
Dad was my inspiration for getting into wildlife, with countless days spent out with him exploring and looking for insects, birds, reptiles and mammals. I can recall childhood memories of walking with Dad through the gorse on Cleeve Hill, with adders seemingly everywhere. We even caught one on one occasion, taking it home to study in a large tank, before carefully releasing it the next morning. We'd make annual trips to the canal with a bucket for frogspawn, which we'd also take home, with a water-filled tank ready and waiting. I'd spend hours and hours watching the tadpoles gradually change into frogs and I'll never forget one year in particular when we released hundreds of tiny frogs under cover of darkness at the canal. I remember one night when Dad arrived home with a bunch of Willowherb which we thought was for mum. It wasn't until he turned the flowers around and revealed a stunning Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar eating the leaves that we realised it was for us to rear. We'd go to Slimbridge, we'd draw birds and generally be alert to wildlife wherever we went.
Into my teens, my interest in the natural world cooled, with other interests taking over. I then went to University before getting more into football and then golf. Meanwhile, Dad was still off out and about and I always asked what he'd been seeing. I then got into photography and quite by accident one evening found a Southern Hawker dragonfly when out with my camera. This moment reignited my passion for wildlife and I was soon upgrading my kit and spending more and more time out and about with Dad, like we used to. We'd often meet up on Rodborough Common, Cleeve Hill, Daneway Banks and in the autumn/winter months, Slimbridge or the Cotswolds for owls. I have so many memories to cherish of Dad and those places in particular will always be very, very special to me.
By far the most memorable experience we had together was a week in the Dordogne region of France in June of 2016 (posts about that trip here and here). We spent an entire week getting up early, looking for and shooting butterflies all day, eating good food and generally having a great time.
Here are a couple of shots of Dad doing what he loved.
My heart has a hole in it now that will never be filled or fixed but that hole will be a constant source of magical memories that I'll forever treasure. I am so lucky to have had such an inspirational and loving Dad and I will miss so much about him, especially this infectious smile and ability to make me laugh so easily. I will miss telling him what I saw on a day out and hearing him tell me what he'd seen recently, and I will dearly miss those days out and about together.
I will however continue to explore the natural world and will continue to share my photos and ramblings here and I'll be forever grateful to a wonderful man for showing me how special and valuable nature is.
Thank you, Dad.
Dave, I have just come across this entry and am sorry this is therefore rather late. I didn't know your dad but have bumped into him carrying his camera on a few occasions over the years. I found he was always happy to have a friendly chat. My condolences for your loss. Bob
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