I know exactly where I first met John Handley… but I had to reach for “the view from out here” pamphlet to find out when… John led a wildflower walk, organised by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, through Bridgnorth cemetery – spring of 2009.
It is a wonderful cemetery, dating from 1850, a sandstone area that has been designated an area of Special Scientific Interest. Thanks to a strict management plan from Shropshire Wildlife Trust – there are now approximately 120 species of wildflower there. I have copious notes from that walk, and this first magical meeting is always there for me to revisit – in the Bridgnorth Writer’s Group anthology.
It turned out – that my partner and I were living on the edge of the wood in which John and his family had lived, a few years before. Luckily for us – he was keen to return. And his desire to share his knowledge, not only on botany which is his area of expertise, but on birdsong, farming, folk music, food and good writing – has led to many happy walks and times together.
I have formally collaborated with John Handley once before when I had the idea of identifying the plant species in a section of our lawn, and then writing a poem about each species. It was a sunny day I remember – all days with John are sunny – and on hands and knees we scoured the 2 metre-square that he had cleverly cordoned off with string and sticks.
John Handley was one of the first to know about my idea for a project and book called Shropshire Butterflies – a poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire. His enthusiasm, ideas, and contacts, at such an early stage meant I pursued the idea – which it turns out, started me on the journey leading to this project – about Maligned Species.
I arrive at his house, slightly embarrassed about asking John if he would write and talk about grey squirrels – as his MSc is in Biological Recording, he is an active member of the Shropshire Botanical Society, and he undertakes botanical and habitat surveying with Arvensis Ecology
But today, he gave such interesting, well-informed answers for the podcast recording. It reminded me of that guided wildflower walk, and the first time we met.
Nadia, Fair Acre Press
I am very glad that, with every Grey Squirrel E-Book that is sold, we will be donating money to Shropshire Wildlife Trust – I asked them to say a little about themselves and they replied with:
Our vision is for Shropshire to be alive with wildlife, loved by people and its wild places cherished
More about the Maligned Species project here