John Buckingham - Talks & Lectures Co-ordinator
Born in Tooting SW London where my father was an optical instrument maker, I had quality binoculars at hand from an early age, which prompted my birding interests and for which I shall be forever grateful. Dedicated masters at Bec Grammar School opened up a love of books and an appreciation of the Surrey countryside, its geography and natural history.
Sue and I were married in 1970 and moving to Tonbridge, we developed our bird, botany, ecology and photographic interests, setting up the local RSPB Group in 1975 and becoming honorary wardens for KTNC at Brenchley Wood. After we turned down the offer of ‘Assistant Warden and Cook’ on an offshore island and narrowly missing out on a position with RSPB, the decision was soon made to become self-employed. Teaching extra mural courses for four universities and the WEA immediately became full time, whilst lecturing in the evenings around London and the Home counties, plus successfully persuading the Natural History Photo Agency (NHPA) to sell my work.
A friend and I set up our own agency Swan Photos, working with publishers of all kinds until ‘digital’ put an end to small companies such as ours. In 1984 I launched my first series of UK wildlife holidays which very soon expanded into escorted worldwide tours and continued for thirty phenomenally successful years, until we retired completely in 2015. I had been visiting the Obs. with groups for some time and became so impressed with the place, that I became a member and joined the ringing team as a trainee in 2010. I now have an ‘A’ licence and an endorsement to train others. I have been a member of Council and a Trustee for 7 years or so, and we moved to East Kent in 2016.