Rick Parker – A Force of Nature

UPDATE 15/06/24:
Rick’s funeral is at 12:00 noon on 8th July 2024, afterwards we will be going to the Strawbury Duck. Rick’s resting place will be at the West Pennine Remembrance Park. Location is just to the northern end of Entwistle Reservoir. Follow the 2 links above for details about the park. If you wish to attend please let Tom know so Rick’s family can have an idea of numbers. If you don’t have Tom’s contact details you can email bcv.queries@hotmail.com and I’ll pass the message on to Tom.

Rick 2015

On 27th May 2024 Bolton, and the nation as a whole, lost one of it’s legendary sons.

Born on 9th September 1950 Richard ‘Rick’ Parker became interested in conservation after watching a pond being destroyed by a bulldozer when he was a child. After studying at University he went on to work for the Bolton Hospital’s pathology lab to make a living, but his real passion was wildlife and in the 1980’s he joined the fledgling Bolton Conservation Volunteers, becoming the group’s co-ordinator/chairman in 1985/1986, a role he held until his passing. For anyone to lead a volunteer group for 38 years is an outstanding achievement, but to do it with the same commitment and passion throughout that time is extraordinary, and is what made Rick such a legendary figure.

Rick took BCV to new heights of success creating hundreds of ponds, establishing reed beds, and planting tens of thousands of trees throughout his leadership. Along the way both Rick and BCV won multiple awards, Bolton Councils Golden Elephant Award, Certificate of Merit from Britain in Bloom, Bolton News Green Hero Award (twice), The Cabinet Office’s Points of Light Award, to name a few. Rick was an acknowledge expert on amphibians and dragonflies and not only has gave lectures to the great and learned he also appeared on the radio, wand wrote chapters for books. Rick was a great communicator and could talk conservation all day to people of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring new generations of conservationists who themselves have gone on to their own successful careers.

After retiring from the hospital’s path lab he started a new career as a freelance hedge layer and in 2008 was the first National Hedge Laying Society Accredited hedge layer in Greater Manchester. But the work he was most proud of and enjoyed the most was teaching Bolton’s school kids about nature and wildlife. Even while in hospital he said he was looking forward to getting back to teaching the year 4 kids.

Over the last few months Rick hadn’t been in the best of health and on 24th May was admitted to hospital for tests. Throughout the 25th several of our volunteers spoke to him and he appeared to be in good health and good spirits, asking about the swans on Doffcocker Lodge, cygnets at Eatock lodge and upcoming tasks. That evening he went to sleep and during the night suffered a catastrophic stroke, he remained unconscious until he passed away peacefully on Monday 27th May.

To say Rick will be missed is an understatement, our world will never be the same. Rick was the bedrock of Bolton Conservation Volunteers, he was the cornerstone of Bolton’s conservation community. Rick was a force of nature, and a force for nature. We’ll miss his old jokes, his tall stories, and his ‘Rickisms’, most of all we’ll miss his energy and enthusiasm. Although he’s gone BCV will continue his legacy, and his immortal spirit will remain at the heart of BCVs goals and aspirations.

Love and best wishes to Rick’s family, and to everyone who knew and worked with him, which is no small list.

Please feel free to leave comments, comments go through a moderation process so won’t appear instantly, I’ll try to approve in the mornings and evenings. If you don’t have access please email comments to bcv.queries@hotmail.com and I’ll add them. May thanks in advance.

In addition to photos and messages on this page the Bolton and Bury Swifts group have also posted a tribute. and the Friends of Eatock also posted this. Thanks everyone.

22 thoughts on “Rick Parker – A Force of Nature

  1. Very sad to hear of Rick’s passing. He was a one-off, always so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about nature and conservation. Although he kept BCV going for a number of years he was always very approachable and down to earth and had a great collection of stories. Apart from his demon free kicks I will also remember his catch phrase “Walk this way” during tool talks. RIP Rick!

  2. Thank you everyone for such lovely tributes to Rick
    As a child he was my big brother and protector and I was his kid sister who always tagged along as the token girl with Rick and his friends
    Throughout my life I have always seen him as the person who knows everything about wildlife from the smallest creatures in a pond to golden eagles
    Whenever I have stayed with him or he has stayed with me he has kept me entertained with everything he has been doing with conservation and teaching
    I have been privileged to be be his sister
    Linda

  3. We heard the sad news of Rick. Stuart went to school with him, has great memories of times with Rick and his family, and he was Best Man at our wedding, many moons ago.

    We mentioned to his sister, Linda, that in memory of Rick, we would like to contribute to a charity. Linda has suggested BCV.

    Therefore we write to ask how we can give a donation?

    Many thanks
    Very best
    Lesley and Stuart Hayes

  4. Such sad news, thoughts and love to everyone that knew and loved him.

    I only volunteered for a year or so before moving away from Bolton, but I remember those Sundays clearly and fondly, pretty much because of Rick.

    As volunteers we don’t get paid, but with Rick about it always felt like we were learning something interesting and important, mainly because he never shut up. That was my payment and I still miss it.

    Rest in peace Rick, I for one will never forget you.

  5. A Man for All Seasons

    I joined Bolton Conservation Volunteers in the spring of 1985 when I was 22 and it was, quite frankly, the start of many golden years for me which the group helped define. That Sunday on Bolton’s Library steps at 10am I was made to feel very welcome … pond work and digging out at Deane! No wonder my presence was welcome. It was really hard work and I loved it! This was the start of many memorable Sunday tasks, weekends away, newt survey parties, walks, theatre trips, ceilidhs and riotous evenings of real ale discussing business in The Crofters. Its list of characters became treasured friends. Dave, Lynda, Jason, Marcus, Diane, Adam, Phil, Ann, Charles, Richard, Des, Lindsay, Paul, Mark, Edith, Denis and of course Rick who became Co-ordinator at that time. Our friendship blossomed & deepened and a lively agenda of merry indoor & outdoor activities grew & grew which made the group very strong, continuing to attract out-going ebullient people from all sorts of backgrounds who were willing to work hard. We “must have been” attracted to the labour & hard graft because it’s needed to make the neglected beautiful, bring life back to abandoned habitats and protect what’s thriving. Not to mention the anarchic football matches at lunchtime!

    As members come & go (me included) you need charismatic energetic characters to keep up the love & commitment to co-ordinate a stimulating worthwhile program of conservation for all seasons amidst the duties & responsibilities of living your life. Rick was that person and he truly leaves a wonderful legacy of just about anything you can put a name to. He was so much fun, so enthusiastic, so full of knowledge, so unorthodox and he didn’t mind us wrecking his house on a Saturday night! Thank you, Rick.

    With Love & Many Blessings to Rick and his family.

    Love, Julia (Spencer)

    1. I was very saddened to hear the news about Rick, he was indeed a legend and an inspiration. Very few people would’ve dedicated so much of their time, effort and unstinting commitment to conservation over so many years. While BCV members have come and gone (me included) Rick has been there, reliably keeping the BCV going with tasks every two weeks for nearly 50 years. What an achievement!

      I know Rick has been a familiar and friendly face to so many people. Thanks to him numerous volunteers have taken part in practical conservation work in a very informal setting. Key skills have been learned and can now be passed on – the famous hedge laying competitions being just one example. Thanks to his hard work and dedication Rick leaves the world in a better place, his positive impact being measured not only by his practical achievements but also by the experience and knowledge he was always happy to share with others.

      Rick certainly had a significant effect on my life. In 2004 I set up the Amphibian and Reptile Group of Lancashire and arranged a series of weekend tasks in North Wales. I wouldn’t have had the knowledge or confidence to do either without having been part of the BCV and part of the “weekend Resi’s” that Rick seemed to organize so effortlessly. In the years that followed I regularly asked Rick for advice and he was always happy to help. In 2017 I completed a PhD on great crested newts but it’s very unlikely that I would have embarked on this if it hadn’t been for Rick and his infectious enthusiasm for the species. One of my study populations came from Rick’s “Newt Rescues” in the early 1990’s, (before these things were so tightly regulated). I’ve continued to monitor this population ever since and I’m pleased to say that it’s doing well. This is perhaps just one of the many ways in which Ricks work lives on. Rick has been an inspiration to many, and he helped shape my life for the better.

      Thankyou Rick, you will be missed.

  6. Sorry to hear of rick’s passing but will remember him for all the fun and struggles with leaky boats on Rumworth and doffcocker chasing the Canada geese and monitoring the terns. Tony Johnson ex RSPB

  7. We are deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Rick Parker.

    Ricks nature and wildlife knowledge was just incredible and he had a superb teaching style. We enjoyed working with him very much in Moses Gate Country Park on activities such as pond dipping, wildlife identification, wildflower garden and edible garden creation and balsam bashing etc.

    Rick was due to continue working with us on our Rock Hall edible garden project on Thursday 30th May and on other nature and wildlife activities for our Rock Hall Revival project this year too. He was looking forward to it, as we were too. We will miss him greatly!

    Our sincere condolences go out to his family and friends and Bolton Conservation Volunteers. We are thinking of you all at this extremely sad time. 😢💔

    Rest in Peace Rick. Thank you for your tireless nature and conservation work. It was a pleasure to have worked with you. Lots of love from all at Banana Enterprise Network and our Rock Hall Revival project.

    You were a true Heritage Hero! 💔❤️🌱🥕🥬🍐🦢

  8. Sincere condolences to Ricks family and his friends at BCV. We were so very thankful for the opportunity to work with Rick on various nature and wildlife sessions at Moses Gate. His knowledge was incredible and we loved his teaching style. His sudden passing has left us shocked and greatly saddened and we missed him today at a nature session that he was due to deliver for us. RIP Rick. You will always be in our thoughts. ❤️ Banana Enterprise Network (Save Rock Hall project).

  9. Having know Rick for over 30years he was a great character & did so much for Greater Manchester Biodiversity. I still remember helping with conservation sessions then heading to Moss Bank Park for a game of football to finish off. Think I’ve still got bruises. His BCV team used my parents back garden as a lunch base a number of times & he was always very thankful. I continued to see Rick through all the work he did at Blackleach Country Park. Condolences to his family & friends.

  10. Hi Everyone,

    I’m Rick’s son Rowan. Thanks so much for the lovely tributes. It’s hard for me to sum up such a multifaceted guy over a message. It’s hard for me but knowing he was so loved by everyone in the group (and he loved the group) makes things better. I’ll let everyone know about the funeral arrangements. I’m manning Ricks old phone but if you don’t have his number and want to chat mine is 07815294254

    1. Hi Rowan, we all share your loss. Rick was extraordinary, unique, irreplaceable, and unforgettable. We’re all proud to have known him.
      Best Wishes
      Colin

  11. Such sad news. Rick was a lovely man, full of energy, always with a smile on his face and his bad jokes were legendary.

  12. This is a message received by email from Chris Buckley – Friends of Eatock Lodge

    So sorry to hear that. That is a big loss. You’ll all be devastated.
    Once I’ve gathered my thoughts I do a little tribute to Rick on the group – without his intervention there may not have been a nature reserve at Eatock Lodge (amphibian count); his early work on site too. There was talk of the lake being filled in at one point (following a suicide). My sympathies with those who knew and worked with him.

  13. Rest in peace Rick. My deepest condolences to family and friends. Rick was awesome in the conservation movement and was a power in his own right. His passion in promoting the help for the Great Crested Newt in areas that would have been lost for ever but for his actions and team work cannot be underestimated. RIP Rick

  14. A lovely man and a great teacher. Gave one of the best (ie scariest and sternest) health and safety talks on hedgelaying I have ever heard to my bunch of over-confident volunteers and brought them all into line, and all done with a twinkle in his eye. Awesome.

  15. My first memory of Rick was exactly as in that earliest long-haired photo. I was on that task, and a few months later we all celebrated his 40th birthday. Tasks usually ended with a vigorous game of football….Rick was surprisingly good and fleet of foot (even in wellies) and after play had finished I was introduced to a responsible(ish) beer culture alongside learning about the outdoor environment, how to plant a tree, dig a pond or lay a hedge. Rick’s dog was our mascot. Rick’s car always had a spare seat to drive me to task from our meeting point at the York Hotel. I was 17 and joining the group to fulfill a section of my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but I stayed a member for many years after, returning to tasks in university holidays and even occasional reunions after I had moved to London for work at the end of the 1990s. Many members of the group were friendly and the social occasions were legendary, but the main reason I kept up the connection was the sheer enthusiasm of Rick. If he drove a spade into his other foot it was as if nothing had happened. If uprooting a rhododendron caused him to slide dramatically down a steep slope right to the bottom he was up again in a flash. He made conservation volunteering fun and that made him the perfect leader, i.e. someone who made you want to follow. It was then that you discovered that he also harboured great knowledge and expertise. My two favourite anecdotes: 1) Rick was working with young offenders. He called out ‘Hey Carl, come over here’, and several lads came running. They were all called Carl. 2) He met the late Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth and told her ‘Nice place you’ve got here’. This is a terribly sad loss for Bolton, the local countryside, the group, his friends and family. He should have been given an MBE or similar honour and he would really have earned it. But, thankfully, the memories of a truly inspirational man will live on!

  16. Rick was such a great guy who did his best for wildlife in so many places. It was always fun to work with him and then put the world to rights in the pub afterwards. Sending my condolences to his family and friends.

  17. Such a sad loss. I volunteered in the late 80’s at a low point in my life. Rick’s welcome and passion for conservation helped me refocus and go on to work in then study Ecology and Environmental Management.
    Thank you Rick. R.I.P

  18. Rest in peace Rick Parker. I will forever remember and treasure your knowledge, your enthusiasm and your rubbish jokes; my favourite one being about the student who wanted to be a Hawthorn tree, because that way he’d get laid every 15 years. Bolton’s nature reserves won’t be the same.

  19. A lovely tribute to Rick who did more for wildlife and for volunteers than anyone I have known. He made me feel like a friend from Day 1 and proved a massive inspiration to my life and career. He leaves a great legacy in all the volunteers he helped, the knowledge he passed on and in the wildlife he conserved over so many years.
    Condolences to all his family and friends.

  20. It has been an absolute pleasure to have met Rick during my 2 years volunteering with BCV, sincere Condolences to his family and friends 🌷🙏

    R.I.P Rick Parker 1950-2024

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