OBITUARY: Tessa Wilson, a conservationist who strove to save our wild flowers

Tessa Wilson (left) and her cousin Kathleen Wilson at Firbank Fell

Tessa Wilson (left) and her cousin Kathleen Wilson at Firbank Fell

First published in News

A DEDICATED amateur botanist and conservationist has died.

Tessa Wilson, who was an active volunteer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust, was born in Kendal and spent her working life as a district nurse in Kirkby Stephen.

She was the first person to discover the importance of Waitby Greenriggs railway cutting, near Kirkby Stephen, for its rare flowers including orchids and grass of Parnassus.

She was instrumental in Waitby Greenriggs becoming a Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserve in 1981 and it has been cared for by the local charity ever since.

When she retired she returned to Kendal and dedicated herself to wild flowers and their conservation amongst many other things including the Mary Wakefield Music Festival.

Miss Wilson was an active recorder for The Flora of Cumbria, the definitive book on the county’s wildflowers, and she knew all the locations for the rarer flowers in Westmorland.

She was also active in helping to conserve them.

When Shell planned a pipeline through Cumbria in the 1990s she was the first to realise it would destroy the only location for chickweed wintergreen in Westmorland on Firbank Fell. She met the engineers on site, persuaded them to move the pipeline, and visited regularly to ensure the construction vehicles did not kill the flowers by driving over them.

Twenty years later the chickweed wintergreen is still there and the pipeline still carries ethylene to the Wirral.

Peter Bullard, Director of Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: "Tessa was a very special person who was an active volunteer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust over a 40 year period. She cared passionately for the wildflowers of Westmorland and helped them in many practical ways.”

Miss Wilson, who died on February 19, was awarded Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s prestigious Gold Badger’s Paw Award in 2009.

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