Horticulture and wildlife conservationist Bernard Tickner dies, aged 93

Visitors enjoy a celebration of 30 years of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust at Lackford Lakes - Local Nat

Visitors enjoy a celebration of 30 years of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust at Lackford Lakes - Local Naturalist, Bernard Tickner speaks at the event and cuts the celebration cake. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM

Bernard Tickner, a legend in nature conservation in Suffolk and a former brewer and founding father of a nature reserve in the county has died at the age of 93.

His death has been recognised as the “end of an era” and has prompted a flood of tributes to the man who was honoured for his dedication to horticulture and wildlife conservation and was awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire Medal (MBDE) only a few weeks ago at a presentation held at Fullers Mill, the stunning garden that he created around his house in the West Stow forest.

Mr Tickner, who grew up in Hadleigh, started on the garden in 1958. Since then, learning from dozens of books as he went along, Mr Tickner managed to create an enchanting and tranquil waterside and woodland garden, situated on the banks of the River Lark.

The devoted horticulturist was also the instigator of the Lackford Lakes nature reserve, which is at the doorstep of his gardens.

This year he celebrated the reserve’s 30th birthday by donating £65,000 to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s appeal to extend the site.


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Mr Tickner, who joined the trust as soon as it was formed in 1966 and was its vice president, had already made a separate donation of £35,000 to the charity’s appeal.

It was used for aggregates extraction but he saw its potential as a reserve and fought hard for its transformation.

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He had also been head brewer at Greene King, in Bury St Edmunds, where he came up with the recipe for Abbot Ale.

His wife Bess dies some 10 years ago and the couple did not have any children.

Julian Roughton, the chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: “It is the end of an era for us as Bernard has been involved with SWT since the 1960s as trustee, vice-president, benefactor and founder of Lackford Lakes nature reserve.

“His generosity in supporting Lackford Lakes nature reserve over many years culminated this year in his donation of £100,000 to the current land purchase as well as funding the new extension to the centre which is to be called the Bernard and Bess Tickner Wild Learning Room. This is expected to open in a few weeks’ time.”

Former trust chairman David Barker added: “Bernard always had a great passion for wildlife; he could be very stubborn and had several run-ins with Atlas Aggregates over the gravel extraction at Lackford but it was with his help the Lackford Lakes nature reserve was passed to Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

“I was chairman of the trust at the time of the transfer and I can remember speaking to Bury St Edmunds Rotary Club with Bernard in the audience - I brought a smile to Bernard when I told the gathering that during my four years as trust chairman I had about 2ins deep of fax messages ... and 99% came from Bernard!”

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