It is with great sadness that we report the death of Derek Moore OBE, late last week. Derek Moore wrote his autobiography last year and the best way to start with this obituary is to quote two well-known figures who wrote forewords:
“To me Derek has been a minder, a mentor and a mate. I am happy to say that he is on my team (and vice versa). “He is also on Nature’s team, and Nature has reason to be grateful.”
“Derek has spent a lot of time ‘fixing’ wildlife and he has done it determinedly. He likes getting on with it. People don’t always respect and enjoy this approach – they think it’s aggressive, and perhaps they’d rather be having another cappuccino or a flat white, whatever that is. I don’t have Derek down as a coffee-morning talker, I have him down as a straight-talking top-rate conservationist.”
Anyone who knew Derek will realise how well these two must have known him. In fact, I still laugh at the memory of Derek and Bill Oddie playing bird ‘charades’ (both helpless with laughter) to entertain delegates at a Wildlife Trust conservation conference in the late 1990s.
Derek’s passion for wildlife was driven by a passion and talent for birding, which shaped his life and work. He came from Suffolk where he held voluntary positions like BTO rep, County Bird Recorder and helped found the Landguard Bird Observatory. In 1985 he turned a hobby into a career and became the Director of Suffolk Wildlife Trust. From there he became Director of Conservation at the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and then in 2001, he moved to west Wales to become the Chief Executive of this Wildlife Trust, overseeing the merger between Glamorgan and West Wales. He as awarded an OBE in 1999. He retired in 2004 but continued to be involved in conservation, becoming the Chairman of the Welsh Ornithological Society and helping out as a volunteer, just as he was when he started out.
Derek was a tremendous raconteur and lived a full and colourful life, loving and participating in sports such as cricket, and playing in a rock band when he was younger. He was gregarious and had friends all over the world, developed from his many birding trips around the world.
His ambitious ideas to help wildlife recover and his outspoken nature were legendary. He loved large-scale habitat restoration projects, was a proponent of the concept of ‘re-wildling’ and kick-started the project to reintroduce Beavers to Wales. He was also a people’s man, promoting the cause of environmental education in its very early days and leading the way in opening up nature reserves to people at a time when many conservation organisations restricted access to permit holders.
Derek was passionate about wildlife – and his passion inspired many people working in conservation today. Many staff at this Wildlife Trust knew him well. For me, he has been a mentor and supporter for nearly 20 years, helping to shape my own career with the Wildlife Trusts and leaving me with many fond memories. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his widow Beryl, his son Jeremy and his daughter Bronwen.