Two legendary Bowland raptor workers recognised for dedication

Two raptor fieldworkers who’ve been monitoring the plight of hen harriers and other raptor species in the Bowland AONB for decades have been recognised for their dedication and commitment.

The Northern England Raptor Forum (NERF) has awarded Bill Hesketh and Bill Murphy (fondly known to many as ‘the two Bills’) certificates of merit for their fifty years of monitoring and protection.

To read the full citation please visit the NERF website here

Richly deserved recognition for two of the finest. Well done!

[Photo from NERF]

9 thoughts on “Two legendary Bowland raptor workers recognised for dedication”

  1. Thank god there are people such as these in the world. They should all be recognised with MBEs as Jean has.
    Who will follow?

  2. I’ve known the Bills since late March ’86 when I became one of the then two RSPB wardens in the Forest of Bowland. I think in that first season we were feeling each other out, as bill and Bill hadn’t always had a perfect relationship with our predecessors. However Peter Etheridge and I soon developed a good working relationship with these two extraordinary volunteers, I certainly learnt an awful lot from them and have always acknowledged that , Merlin nests we couldn’t find they found, things we didn’t understand they explained. Days in the field with one or both of them were days always to be savoured and remembered with a smile. I can remember a day out on Bleasdale estate with Bill H when we found 3 or four Merlin nests and one of Hen Harriers, just magic. Their sense of humour is also great and needed when things go wrong. On another occasion We had arranged to meet on the Bleasdale fence line, we were on UU they were checking 3 known harrier nests on Bleasdale. I could see as they approached all was not well and Bill H was almost in tears when they told us that all three nests had been ” done.” Its hard working in Bowland, the terrain is often difficult, the keepers sometimes always seemed one step ahead of you but that was a really hard day on all of us. I worked there in the end for six seasons, four with Peter, two with Greg Carrier, always with Bill and Bill. We have remained friends ever since, there are no more two deserving recipients of this award, we are all humbled by both their dedication to the task in hand and knowledge. I salute you guys and am humbled that you call me friend.

    1. Only met the once and
      they truly interigated me. Their dedication is commendable at the highest level.Nice to know there are people who will give so much of their time and devotion.

  3. Thanks to these two great men and everyone involved with trying to protect raptors. We need more like them.

  4. It was great to read Paul Irving’s appreciative piece on the 2 Bills. I too have volunteered for an organisation for 50 years and know what commitment this entails. Well done Bill Hesketh and Bill Murphy! Keep going!

  5. Well done and well-deserved. Great account by Paul
    Irving – enjoyed reading that. Sickening re. the nests but we will stop the buggers one day.

  6. In my long experience of wildlife conservation and the protection of indigenous peoples, I have never ceased to be horrified at the cruelty and persecution other forms of Life have had to endure at the hands of humankind, out and about looking for “sport”, and not wandering in wonderment at the fantastic forms found in plants, insects, birds, mammals and reptiles. I have become heartbroken when witnessing in films, books and on current news announcements, the genocide of native peoples living unobtrusively in their respective remote environments. Nearer home, here in Britain, I experience the same distraught on reading about our Birds of Prey, and other creatures, being destroyed by those in the game bird pseudo-industry. However, when I encounter courageous and dedicated people such as the Two Bills, Messrs Hesketh and Murphy, I feel tears of triumph roll from my eyes, that humanity has stalwart defenders of the defenceless among our endangered species of raptors. It is the same feeling I have when watching films or reading books about the valiant people, who saved humanity from a cruel evil in the Second World War, and in other times, for similar justifiable causes. Compassion and decency should be the distinguishing features of an ethical moving world civilisation.

    The current world lock down has stymied the bad laid schemes of trophy shooters in some parts of Africa, where the assassination of wildlife commands high prices from such people. I have encountered over the years, young men who shot birds for fun with their slug guns, but on persuading them away from such an activity, they came to see the inane cruelty in such “recreation”. Can those who support the egregious driven grouse shooting, and the concomitant killing of other species as threats to their “sport”, not have a Pauline experience, and renounce this deleterious habit? Everywhere on the planet, Life in all its forms is under severe threat, and I would hope that the coronavirus experience would make people become members of some support group to protect what is left of the natural world, or create new habitats. Also, that purblind politicians would stop thinking up enormous environment destroying projects, such as railways and runways, to fuel economic growth, at the expense of settled human communities and wildlife habitats. This should be a time of soul-searching and reappraisal of the globalisation process, to make sure that humanity will expunge all that is brutal and intrusive. The extinction of any species brings us closer to a world where we humans will stand alone. The answer lies on our grouse moors.

  7. It’s great to see the two Bills getting recognition again for their dedication and hard work. Their knowledge of the Bowland Fells and the birds found on them is second to none. I met them a number of times over the years and am so pleased to know that they are still there doing their thing after so many years. Such a shame that after all those years of work the situation for harriers in particular in Bowland is little better, and perhaps worse than it was in 1980’s, it must be so disheartening for them and yet still they are prepared to get out there and help locate and monitor the birds in full knowledge of what the likely fate is.

    If they are as they once were then I Imagine that Bill Hesketh will have lots to say about about this recognition while Bill Murphy will just quietly nod. They are a couple of real characters and they really should write a book or two with all the stories they have, both about Bowland and the things that have gone on there, and also some of Hesketh’s other tales too!

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