At this time of year when I find little time to write here I am always pleased to receive items I can include without too much effort on my part.
The following piece, written by Steven Walker, is about probably two of the best and most dedicated naturalists Essex has ever known.
On the northern edge of the Naze lies the Essex Wildlife Trust reserve dedicated to John Weston, who was warden at the Naze for many years until his death in April 1984. To the casual walker it remains quite hidden behind the lagoon. The reserve was officially created in 1971, is 3.6 hectares in area and made up of blackthorn and bramble thickets, rough grassland and a number of ponds. It is a haven for migrating birds, butterflies and small animals. John was an environmental activist ahead of his time and together with his wife Diane dedicated much of his life to protecting, observing and recording wildlife around Hamford Water and the Naze. He spent his childhood in Lower Kirby where he developed a particular interest in bird watching, eventually becoming a founding member of Essex Wildlife Trust. Together John and Diane were at the forefront of the fight against a huge development at the Naze in 1959 for a hotel, leisure and housing scheme. This was just one of a number of applications for development threatening the Naze in the late 1950s which would have had an adverse impact on wildlife and the environment. In 1963 Essex County Council and the old Frinton and Walton Urban District Council were eventually forced to purchase the eastern part of the Naze, and declare it a public open space. The Westons organised a Little Tern and shore nesting bird wardening scheme at the Naze which began in the early 1970s and continues to this day. Diane was Chair of the Tendring local group of Essex Wildlife Trust for twenty five years following John’s death. She had also been joint Recorder and a Vice-President of the Essex Birdwatching Society. Over the years she organised numerous bird recording and fundraising events, maintaining the profile of Essex Wildlife Trust. Like John, she was a passionate conservationist and spent much of her time before her death in September 2014 to conserving wildlife in Tendring. Thanks to John and Diane Weston and the many people they inspired to carry on their work, the Naze remains a public amenity for all to enjoy.
John was a ‘fun guy’ – I knew him well. He was always up for a laugh.
One Christmas he decided to add a lighted candle to the top of a hat he was wearing. Dancing around his mother’s front room he promptly set alight the paper trimmings which festooned the room.