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Don Revett - Obituary

page created July 2010; updated Friday, 16 July 2010

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The following obituary was taken from Issue 43 of "Welney News", (Feb-Mar 2005)


The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and the village were saddened to hear of the death of former reserve manager Don Revett who passed away peacefully in November [2004] after a short period of illness.

Don took over as manager of the Trust's Welney reserve in the summer of 1982 and enjoyed 13 hugely successful years before retiring to Woolpit near Bury St Edmunds. Prior to moving to Welney, Don had worked for the Wildfowl Trust (as it was then) running the idyllic Nacton Decoy in Suffolk, where ducks were caught and ringed for migratory studies rather than their necks when the decoy was operated by the Orwell Estate with the fowl being sold to markets. lnterestingly before Don took a change in career with conservation, he worked for several years at the sinister and secret atomic research station on Orford Ness testing triggers for nuclear bombs. His sons were convinced that his apparent ability to glow in the dark was due to all the contact he had with fissile material.

During his time at Welney he enthusiastically set about raising the profile of the reserve and was rewarded with a huge increase in visitor numbers, with these having increased from 17,000 to 34,000 a year when he retired. He worked tirelessly ensuring that the needs of the visitors, wildfowl, grazing cattle and his staff were always met with the highest standards. He helped expand the main observatory into an even more capacious and comfortable place to watch the migratory wildfowl; the visitor centre was also increased in size to in- clude the thriving Wigeon tearoom and gift shop. Of the many other notable achievements at the reserve was the formation of the fund raising "Friends of Welney" group and forging close links with local farmers resulting in copious donations of extraneous potatoes and grain to tip out on the reserve for the wintering swans to gorge themselves on in an orgiastic feast of thrashing feathers and churning water.

Don was a close friend of Sir Peter Scott who visited both Nacton and Welney several times and was always highly appreciative of the work Don had done for the Trust. Perhaps the most distinguished visitor to enjoy Don's fine achievements at Welney was HM the Queen, who literally "popped" in one afternoon to enjoy the afternoon feed of the swans and Don proudly showed her the excellent facilities that he had worked so hard to create.

Don loved his time at Welney and felt the best way to sum up this superb place was to refer to a very fitting quote from Sir Peter Scott: "lf we had done nothing else in the Wildfowl Trust except acquiring Welney, then it would have been worthwhile". Don was one of the Wildfowl Trust's most devoted servants and his dedication of working for them for nearly 30 years speaks volumes.

He will be sorely missed by all his friends and family especially his wife Pam and his three sons, one of whom Jonathan worked for him for several years on the reserve and was immensely proud to have such a great father.

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