John Franklin

December 17th 2020

No year should end with sad news but this year continues to take more than it gives.

Our friend John Franklin has passed away due to covid complications.

John wasn’t just a volunteer, he was a shoulder anyone could lean on. You didn’t even need to ask, he’d just be there ready to listen to any problem you had. He’d encourage and support, and not judge. You couldn’t know John and not like him, John found many friends in BCV.

He volunteered not only with BCV but also The Wildlife Trust, and the Trust’s Men in Sheds group, a group that helps isolated men find a place and a purpose in the community. John’s ability to connect with people helped these lost individuals open up and find themselves, he probably saved many men from lives of misery and despair with just a few simple words.

John was someone whose friendship and humanity should be aspired to by everyone. His loss is a tragedy for his family, friends, the community and all who knew him. Love and condolences to John’s family, we are all thinking of you.

I’m sure many people have memories of John, if you send them to me I’ll add them to this post.

UPDATE – 08/01/21
John’s funeral was on 7th January, at 12:00 noon at the west chapel, Overdale Cemetery. Only a limited number of people was allowed to attend, 10 family and 9 from the volunteer groups John was part of.

The family has asked for donations to be made to the British Lung Foundation in John’s memory, if that is something you would like to do. If you would like to send a card to John’s wife Evelyn and his family then the Wildlife Trusts’ Steven Cartwright can take these up to them on your behalf. Please send them to ‘Evelyn Franklin, c/o Stephen Cartwright, 499-511 Bury Road, Bolton, BL2 6DH’. Please can I ask that these arrive no later than 18th January to avoid unnecessary disturbance to the family.

The Friends of Seven Acres are planning on holding a tree planting session on site in memory of John at some point in the future so if you feel that is a more appropriate way to pay your respects then please await news of that.

Comments are also being posted in the comments box beneath the photo gallery, many thanks to everyone who has contributed. Comments that are left won’t appear immediately but will appear after approval.

Norman’s Christmas Cheer

Never has mid-winter been so bleak, never have days been so un-jolly. The pandemic, political chaos, environment in crisis, have made 2020 a year to remember for the wrong reasons. We have fallen on dark days but as winter nights start to get longer the light of hope begins to shine again.

BCV faced it’s own crises in 2020, we closed down in March with no idea if the group still had a future, but returned in June with fewer volunteers on task but more tasks per month. Many of our members stayed away as covid fears took their toll, but new volunteers have join us. Indoor meetings at the Sweet Green have had to stop, but now we have Zoom meetings. Without tasks or walks or meetings our members were isolated, but the WhatsApp group brought people together. Our old website was forced to shut down, but was rebuilt into something new and better. Our beloved old beer-glass-newt logo was replaced with a new, more inclusive and forward looking image.

Despite all the tragedy, heartbreak, loneliness, anxiety, and isolation we have endured and found new purpose to drive us forward, and new horizons to set our compass to. After every nightfall there is a sunrise, after every winter there is a spring. The furture is finally looking up. We will continue to meet the challenges and look forward to a time when all of our members will be able to put on their wellies and meet on task again as one big BCV family. Hope to see you all in 2021.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Norman’s jolly Christmas cheers, so, the cheers for 2020 go to: Rick, Tom and Caroline for keeping the tasks running under difficult circumstances (BIG CHEER); to Colin for building, and running, the new website, and putting together the new calendar (CHEESY CHEERS); to Jane for hosting the Zoom meetings (CHEERY CHEERS); to Gill for keeping people occupied on WhatsApp (CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEER CHEER); to all of our clients for continuing to have faith in BCV (WILD CHEERS); finally to the BCV family of volunteers who have been their for each other in time of need and continue to go above and beyond being just mere volunteers (BIG BIG CHEERS and WILD APPLAUS).

And now, as is traditional, Norman T. Newt would like to sing a couple of jolly Christmas ditties for your amusement, feel free to join in, you know the tunes.

Norman’s Christmas Cheer

Dashing through the snow
Trying to ‘walk this way’
O’er the fields we go,
Tripping all the way.

Shiny bill hooks ring,
Hedges are our pride,
Oh! What fun it is to sing
A hedgerow song outside.

Oh, Jingle newts, wearing masks,
Not mingling all the day.
Oh! what fun it is to,
Social distance on Sunday.

Oh, Jingle newts, rule of six,
Sanitise the saws.
Everyone is squeaky clean,
So we break no laws.

Walking ‘cross the mud,
Rain is in the sky.
Looking for a pub,
Are they still locked down?

Rain coats, hats and gloves,
Keeping workers dry.
Oh! What fun it is to sing
A tasking song hoo-rah!

Jingle newts, wearing masks,
No mingling all the day.
Oh! what fun it is to,
Keep our distance on Sunday.

Oh, Jingle newts, rule of six,
Sanitise the gloves.
Everyone is peachy keen,
Doing what we love.

The BCV Christmas Song

Rhodys burning on an open fire
Cold mud dripping from your nose,
Caroline and Tom working without tire,
And Francis dressed in Sunday clothes

Everybody knows a bow saw and some loppers so,
Help to make the task day right.
Jane with her cheeks all aglow,
Won’t find it hard to sleep tonight.

Hedge laying season’s on its way;
Rick has saws and stakes in his ‘sleigh’.
And every volunteer will try,
To see if wildlife they can spy.

And so we’re offering these outdoor days,
To kids from eight to eighty-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very BCV Christmas to you.

Merry Christmas Everyone

November and December task blogs will appear below.

Halloween Hall of Horrors

‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on.


For the last few years BCV has held Halloween themed tasks to celebrate the season of the witch, but with this year’s real global horror story limiting our undead lives, our ghoul fest has had to be chopped down in size. So, to remind us all how zombies danced and werewolves howled here’s a few creepy pics from previous years. Here’s to raising spirits.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Parker

Congratulations to BCV Chairman, co-ordinator, newt wrangler, and hedge jedi, Rick Parker on reaching the age of 70 on 9th September. Richard Parker, not to be confused with the the tiger of the same name in The Life of Pi, although just as impressive, was born at a young age and immediately started to grow to an outlandish height. After graduating with a useful qualification he found work at the NHS where it wasn’t much use to him at all. But, he also joined the fledgling Bolton Conservation Volunteers and in 1986 took over the operation and whipped a disparate team of misfits into a credible force for conservation.

Rick, took BCV to new heights of success winning multiple awards along the way such as, BMBC’s The Golden Elephant Award, Bolton News Green Hero Award (twice), The Cabinet Office’s Points of Light Award, to name a few, and more free meals than anyone has ever seen.

Rick is an acknowledge expert on amphibians and dragonflies and not only has given lectures to the great and learned he has also appeared in full colour on the radio, written stuff for books, and on occasion has hob nobbed with royalty.. or so he says. Rick’s conservation expertise and ability to talk to anyone non-stop has been key to his success at what he does.

Since ‘retiring’ from the depths of the the hospital he has carved out a career as a freelance hedge jedi, and was the first National Hedgelaying Society Accredited hedge layer in Greater Manchester. He also spends time teaching Bolton’s younglings the way of the newt at various schools around the borough… AND continues to co-ordinate BCV activities. That’s 70 years well spent.

Rick’s Rickisms are legendary and we pull his leg and dig his ribs, but BCV is BCV because of Rick and we wouldn’t have Rick any other way. Happy 70th Birthday from everyone, Rick, may the sun always shine on your pond.

Welcome to the New Website

The BCV website has changed. Our previous site ran for 14 years but over time became harder and harder to maintain, so now we have something new. Unlike the old site this one is fully compatible across all devices, regular visitors will also notice some other changes. At the moment there are no photo galleries and many of the other pages are also missing, hopefully this will change over the coming months as we decide what to keep and what to compost. In the meantime task photos will appear on the Norman Newt’s blog along with write ups of each task and also other news items as they arise. There is also no contact form although contact details are listed on the sidebar, and finally the task page doesn’t have many tasks on it, this is due to the covid-19 pandemic, tasks are still being planned. Please see the Joining Tasks page and/or contact Rick for more info. This is also the last outing of Norman the Newt as our new logo is now in use. Norman will return for special occasions though.
As things are a bit bare I’ll be including some retrospective stories as I get better acquainted with the editing tools.