Thursday, April 25, 2013

Denys James Watkins-Pitchford (BB)

On Saturday 11th May 2013 at 2pm, Ray (Badger) Walker will talk about his personal friendship with Denys James Watkins-Pitchford.
Badger is a Derbyshire man and he met BB in the early 1980s. Their shared passion and interest for the countryside, and of Jefferies’ writing, led to a solid friendship. By coincidence, Badger’s father was born in Chiseldon opposite the church where Richard Jefferies married Jessie Baden.
DOORS OPEN 1PM (Opportunity to explore the Museum) 

enys James Watkins-Pitchford MBE was a naturalist, an illustrator and a children’s author writing under the pseudonym ‘BB’ (a name based on the size of lead shot he used to shoot geese). Born on 25th July 1905 in Northamptonshire, he was the second son of the Revd Walter Watkins-Pitchford and his wife, Edith. His elder brother, Engel, died at the age of thirteen. Denys was himself considered to be delicate as a child, and because of this he was educated at home, whilst his younger twin, Roger, was sent away to school. He spent a great deal of time on his own, wandering through the fields, and developed a love of the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and drawing – all of which were to influence his writing. He left home at the age of fifteen to study at the Northampton School of Art where he won several prizes and a travelling scholarship to Paris where he worked at a studio and attended drawing classes. In the autumn of 1924, he entered London’s Royal College of Art. In 1930 he became an assistant art master at Rugby School where he remained for seventeen years. Whilst at Rugby School he began contributing regularly to the Shooting Times and started his career as an author and illustrator. He married Cecily in 1939, and they had two children; Angela and Robin – the latter died at the age of seven from Bright’s Disease. Cecily died in 1974. By the late 1980s, Watkins-Pitchford needed regular dialysis treatment. He was awarded an honorary MA by Leicester University in 1986, and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1990. He collapsed suddenly in September of that year, and died while under anaesthetic in the operating theatre on 8th September 1990.

BB dedicated his last book (Confessions of a Coastal Gunner) to Ray Badger Walker. He accompanied BB on a number of his epic annual trips to the Wash, and latterly to the Solway Firth and the Northumberland Coast in search of the pink foot and greylag geese that overwinter in these islands. In his foreword to the book, Badger writes: ‘It is well known that BB was an old-time hunter-gatherer and shot for the pot, not the size of the bag. He would never waste anything edible, and had his own recipes for serving up a meal.’