Lives Remembered: John Burkett - Obituaries - News - The Independent

Lives Remembered: John Burkett

 

My husband John Burkett, who has died aged 82, was an engineer, falconer and an expert in wildlife rehabilitation. He wasn't that good at timekeeping, considering that he had wound and looked after the church clock at Hough-on-the–Hill for 10 years. Now he will be buried in the churchyard there on 28 June.

John was born in Eltham in 1929 and developed a fascination with flying when he visited injured pilots at Tunbridge Wells hospital, where he had been evacuated during the war. Later he took a short-service commission in the RAF, leaving to work on The Comet, afterwards moving to the RAE to work on the Blue Streak Project, before working as an agricultural engineer.

John was blessed with an enquiring mind, which was nurtured at the emergency school he attended in Deptford, resulting in his love of the arts. Summer visits to Somerset and Chubworthy Farm triggered a fascination in country life, wildlife and the environment which influenced the rest of his life.

We met at college, and together we worked in the rescue, repair and rehabilitation of wild creatures, dealing with anything from the killer whale caught in fishing nets to rescuing young peregrines from cliffs after the dead adults had been found. The cost of dealing with seabirds after the Torrey Canyon disaster left financial problems, necessitating a move to Lincolnshire. We advised on many occasions: an oiling incident on the American beaches, for example, or advising on diet for animals born in captivity, such as the panda born in a Spanish zoo.

One story John liked to tell was of the badger which was, in theory, rehabilitated to the wild, only to receive a phone call from a lady, who, while entertaining her WI friends to tea, found a badger joining them. On arrival, John found the ladies huddled in a corner while the badger picked the ham out of the sandwiches. The hardest part of any rehabilitation work is always returning creatures to the wild; the badger had been released for 10 months. This year marks the 60th anniversary of our charity.

John was a keen falconer, a member of the British Falconry Club for almost 60 years, past President of the Hawking Club of Great Britain, Chairman of LAND (Lincs and Notts Against Nuclear Dumping), a committee member of Cranwell Aeronautical Society, a pianist, organist and a gentleman, whose sense of fun and mischief was never far away. He is survived by myself, his son St John, daughter Sophie, and two grandchildren, Seth and Kizzie.

Molly Burkett

If you would like to contribute an obituary of a friend, colleague or family member please send a piece of no more than 400 words by email to obituaries@independent.co.uk or by post to Obituaries, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week