Rutland Natural History Society pays tribute to Sir David

Sir David Davenport-Handley. 'Photo: MSMP230713-234js
Sir David Davenport-Handley. 'Photo: MSMP230713-234js
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Tributes are still coming in for Sir David Davenport-Handley, who died at his Clipsham Hall home on January 10 at the age of 94.

The funeral, attended by family, villagers and close friends, was held at St Mary’s Church, Clipsham on Monday and was followed by interment in the churchyard. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Phil Rudkin, a member and former chairman of Rutland Natural History Society, sent in the following:-

“Sir David Davenport-Handley was the second president of Rutland Natural History Society, succeeding Sir Henry Tate.

“Sir David became president in 1981 and retired as president in 2000.

“Sir David was a perfect president, and gave the society regular permission to access important, private wildlife habitats on his land, including Clipsham Quarries and Pickworth Woods.

“Sir David agreed wholeheartedly to the formation of the RNHS Clipsham Quarry Survey team and the team’s conservation work on the quarry banks, which still goes on to this day.

“Sir David and Lady Leslie very kindly allowed the use of their home to the society for fundraising events and also held a very entertaining evening social get-together for members, which was much appreciated by all.

“Sir David endeared himself to the members with his personality and caring nature, and especially the firm and humorous way he conducted the annual general meetings; after the business was over he always stayed on and sat down with the members for the rest of the evening to enjoy either a wildlife film or a lecture. He was indeed a ‘man of the people’.

“I had first-hand knowledge of Sir David’s charisma, being chairman of the society from 1985 to 1995 under the presidency of Sir David; a firm bond was established! An abiding memory was his love of the nuthatch, which often fed on his garden feeders.

“He would phone up in great excitement and would often invite a few members to Clipsham Hall to join 
him, to observe this fabulous bird from the adjacent parkland.”

The following came in from the Friends of Rutland County Museum:-

“The Friends of Rutland County Museum have been greatly saddened to learn of the death of their long-serving vice-president, Sir David Davenport-Handley.

“Sir David was among the group of influential Rutland enthusiasts who helped to set up the Friends of the Museum in 1959, and indeed he chaired their first meeting.

“He remained a faithful supporter of the Rutland County Museum and its Friends, and although not able to attend their meetings in recent years he was still in office as a vice-president and regularly made a point of sending his good wishes at their annual general meetings.”

Tim Clough, himself a long-serving honorary secretary of the Friends and former curator of the Rutland County Museum and Oakham Castle and now also a vice-president, said: “The participation of Sir David Davenport-Handley and other Rutland notables in the process of setting up the Friends of the Museum was an essential preliminary to the opening of the museum, which
took place 10 years later in 1969.

“The opening ceremony was performed by HRH Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester and I’m sure he would have been instrumental in making the arrangements for her 

“Throughout my time at the museum Sir David was always a welcome and interested visitor, one of those people who were generous in their encouragement and willing to support the museum and its activities in whatever way they could.”

“The Friends of the Museum extend their condolences to Sir David’s family and remember his fundamental contribution to their success and 
that of the museum with gratitude.”