‘First’ NIMBY campaigner and conservationist dies at 82

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WILDLIFE and environment campaigner John Burkett, recognised by The Times newspaper as the first NIMBY, has died at the age of 82.

Mr Burkett ran a wildlife rehabilitation centre with his wife, Molly, for the last 60 years and it continues to be the longest-running of any such centre and the oldest privately-run wildlife charity in the world. He was called a Not In My Back Yard protestor by the national newspaper when he became chairman of Lincs Against Nuclear Dumping, the Fulbeck-centred group which successfully ran a campaign to stop a proposed nuclear waste dump near the village more than two decades ago.

The Burketts moved to Lincolnshire in 1969 and took in many birds affected in the oil tanker Torrey Canyon disaster - the fish bill meant they sold their house in Hampshire - and experimental work was done at the wildlife centre to aid the survival of seabirds. It was also involved in the successful breeding programme for the ravens at the Tower of London.

The couple ran the wildlife rehabilitation centre on their own, with no additional help or employees and received no cash donations.

A family spokesman said: “To visit John and Molly was to visit another world. For several years, a little auk lived on the stairs and at other times the bathroom would be shared by a guillemot having its daily splash. A badger was well-known for stealing meat from the fridge and happily sharing it with an English setter.”

Mr and Mrs Burkett travelled all over the country to collect a variety of sick and injured wildlife and fulfill their philosophy of “the three Rs” - rescue, rehabilitation and release (back to the wild).

Mr Burkett had a life-long fascination with falconry and he trained many birds, some of which went onto perform in film and television shows. He also played a key role in setting up the conservation section at the East of England Show, when the concept of conservation was new - and acted as a steward there for 28 years.

Mr Burkett is survived by Molly, who will continue to run the Hough-on-the-Hill centre in a much-reduced capacity, children St John and Sophie and grandchildren Seth and Kizzie.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, June 28, from 11am at Hough-on-the-Hill church (and afterwards at Woody’s of Ancaster).

l Obituary - page 19