David Sprague passed away on 19th November 2019

20th February 1935 – 19th November 2019

The Society is sad to announce the passing of David Sprague at the age of 84 on 19th November 2019.

David joined the Society in 1994. He was active in heathers within his local area and attended the Southern Group meetings and for a period was involved with heading up and helping organising the Southern Group events. David and his wife Audrey took a great interest in Society affairs attending many Conferences with David often contributing to discussions at Society AGMs.

David’s working career was in the Diplomatic Service living in seven different countries. When David retired in 1993 he and Audrey settled down in their home in Dorking, Surrey. Such was David’s passion for heathers he transformed a terraced garden on a steep slope into an almost exclusively heather garden. David greatly valued the early help and advice he received from the late David Small. Society members visited the garden on several occasions and admired a wonderful display. David and Audrey eventually moved to Exmouth, Devon and he continued his interest in heathers, creating a new heather garden with plants from a well-known heather nursery.

The Society wishes to pass on its condolences to David’s wife, Audrey, his two sons and one daughter and five grandchildren.

Phil Joyner

Roy Nichols PhD passed away on 7th October 2019

The Society is sad to announce the peaceful passing of Dr Roy Nichols at the age of 90 on 7th October 2019.

Roy joined the Society in 1967, so not far off of being a founder member. He served the Society as a Member of Council from 1993 to 2006 travelling down from Newcastle to London for many of the Council Meetings within that period. Also, for a period, he was a member of the financial Sub-committee of the Society. He was active in heathers within his local area and for many years was a Committee Member of the North East Local Group and for a period chaired that Group.

Roy was an industrial chemist during his working career. His horticultural interests were wide and apart from his interest in heathers he also had an interest in orchids and cacti. He attended several Society Conferences and whilst a very colourful character he was a joy to be in the company of.

The Society wishes to pass on its condolences to Roy’s wife, Florence, his sons and grandchildren.

Phil Joyner

Jean Preston passed away on 22nd January 2019

Jean Preston

1944 - 2019

The Society is sad to announce the passing of Jean Preston on 22nd January 2019.

Jean was an amazing person, who found time to get involved in a wide range of community and charitable activities, and she was very well known in her local community.  Her love of heathers and concern for environmental conservation led her to joining The Heather Society in 1990, and we were fortunate to gain a member with such energy and organisational ability. Her invaluable contributions to the Society began almost immediately, when she was closely involved in the Harlow Carr heather trials with her soon-to-become husband Albert Julian. She and Albert co-authored two papers in the 1992 and 1993 Yearbooks on “Heathers in Yorkshire”, which among other things described the heather planting at the handsome new entrance to Harlow Carr Gardens, a planting in which they played a major role.  Those beds continue to provide a dramatic colourful welcome to visitors to the Garden today and are a fitting testament to Jean.  Sadly Albert passed away in 2001, but Jean continued to serve the Society as a member of Council for another 11 years.

Jean’s first official Society appointment was as slide librarian in 1992, and during 1993 she was appointed to Council.  In 1999 she took on the office of Registrar, with responsibility for registering new cultivars.    In 2001 she became Secretary, a position placing particular demands on her time and one which she held for 11 years, finally stepping down in 2012 to continue in her less stressful role as custodian of the Society’s slides.  During all these activities Jean somehow also found time to resurrect the Yorkshire Heather Group, which had faded away after the demise of its organiser Ken Barraclough, and as Secretary and Treasurer for the Group she organised talks and visits for the membership. The meetings were held at Harlow Carr, where Jean’s many contacts with the Garden’s hierarchy proved invaluable. At these meetings she also provided refreshments, often in the form of delicious cakes and biscuits of her own baking.  Jean also had a broad knowledge of the practicalities of heather propagation and growing and was always happy to share this knowledge with others.  She will be sadly missed by so many.

The Society extends its condolences to Jean’s husband Mike.

John Griffiths


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