Pioneering naturalist honoured

Fred Fincher in Randan Wood by Harry Green

A pioneering Worcestershire naturalist has been honoured in a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of Worcestershire’s largest nature conservation charity.

Fred Fincher MBE, who lived in Dodford for almost 60 years, was one of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust’s founding fathers when the charity was established in 1968.

The committees of the Trust’s Bromsgrove and Wyre Forest volunteer supporter groups organised a plaque at the location of Mr Fincher’s former home, Randan Wood. Mr Fincher donated the woodland to the Trust in 1968 and it became the first of almost 100 parcels of land that the Trust now manage.

Wyre Forest and Bromsgrove local group committees with Fred Fincher's plaque

Wyre Forest and Bromsgrove local group committees with Fred Fincher's plaque

Harry Green, who has been involved with the organisation as a volunteer and trustee since its formation, explained “Fred was quite an extraordinary man. He kept journals of his natural history observations almost until he died and what he didn’t know about Worcestershire’s natural world wasn’t worth knowing!

“He was initially interested in birds but this soon expanded and he had a working knowledge of plants, fungi and dragonflies. He wrote the county’s first account on crickets and grasshoppers.

“Fred used to cycle everywhere but in his later years there were so many people who wanted to learn from him that he was never short of a lift to discover the county’s more far-flung places.”

Fred Fincher was born in the Black Country on 23rd June 1901 but moved to Dodford in 1934, building a bungalow in Randan Wood and running a small chicken farm with his mother.

He wrote the ‘In Field, Wood and Hedgerow’ column in the Bromsgrove Messenger for more than 30 years.

Fred Fincher and wife Alice Gill at Eades Meadow

Fred Fincher and wife Alice Gill at Eades Meadow on the day it became a National Nature Reserve

It was Fred Fincher who discovered Eades Meadow and Fosters Green farm near Hanbury; noticing a field full of wildflowers as he cycled by. This series of fields where one farmer had resisted the wartime push for ploughing hay meadows and pastures, is now a National Nature Reserve and a jewel in the grasslands crown of Worcestershire.

Harry added “As the Trust celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, it is entirely fitting that our local supporter groups in the area have organised a plaque in his honour – to celebrate a wonderful man and 50 years of wildlife conservation in the county starting from this one small woodland.”

In 1984 Mr Fincher was awarded an MBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the conservation and study of Worcestershire’s wildlife.

Fred was the greatest all-round naturalist that Worcestershire has ever produced and he has been sorely missed. Modern wildlife conservation in the county has been built from the foundation of his knowledge.

He died at the age of 94 on 30th July 1995, leaving everything including his journals and natural history library to the Trust in his Will.

Randan Wood, a semi-natural ancient woodland, is part of the larger Chaddesley Woods complex and can only be visited with a permit issued by the Trust.

Fred Fincher slate plaque