Posted by: lensweb | January 17, 2021

Remembering Stuart Gilder Hon Chairman Long Eaton Natural History Society Wildlife Group (LENS)

Stuart Gilder, what a guy, with that huge laugh you couldn’t help but have fun when he was around. Stuart joined LENS in 2012. He loved LENS Field trips and getting to know all about wildlife. He joined LENS committee and started to lead some LENS outings. In May 2014 we went to Bempton Cliffs and when I got out my DSLR camera fitted with a 300mm lens, Stuart’s eyes went round, ‘Blimey Marion, I didn’t realise I was working with David Bailey.’ He was hooked! Stuart got himself the camera gear, joined Ilkeston Camera Club and within a short time was leading the Stapleford U3A camera group!

Stuart Gilder (Left) with Jack Perks, Natural History Photographer 13 November 2018

Stuart was always looking for ways to help wildlife. He joined Erewash Tree Wardens and was a Friend of Hayworth Park in Sandiacre. With Sustrans he helped to lay the hedge by the cycle track at Straw’s Bridge. When Long Eaton School needed help to improve the Nature Corridor by the Erewash Canal, Stuart organised us into a weekly work party until it was all clear.

He joined Derbyshire Reptile and Amphibian Group in 2014 as they started the Toad Crossing at Church Wilne, helping toads across the road which passes through their ancestral migratory route.  He rescued 23 toads, ‘Do you want to record them?’ he asked. Since then he has recruited LENS members to carry out the Wilne Toad Patrol every Spring. This is a poem he wrote:

Spare a Thought for Thomas Toad

When driving along a country road, spare a thought for Thomas Toad,

You may not see our Thomas Toad courting a lady on the road.

Thomas is not the fastest guy, he stands and waits for his love to come by,

When he clambers on her back, he has to fight to stay on track.

There’s no on-line dating for Thomas Toad, it’s time to head for the open road,

Thomas is driven by nature’s mating game, no time to think ‘Is this insane?’.

You see, he’s not seen the Green Cross Code while standing in the centre of the road

He stands in danger, but he does not know, your car can deliver a crushing blow.

Thomas wears his camouflage coat, but your motor car only picks up his little white throat,

So if you see these jewels in the road, spare a thought for Thomas Toad.

In by-gone days, Thomas and friends were marching in fields with no fast bends,

They don’t know of falling number, come’n mankind! Get out of that slumber.

Give him a chance to mate next year, to cross the road without any fear.

Thomas Toad won’t be here for long, its up to mankind to be very strong.

If you sit there in nice warm home while Thomas Toad is all alone,

No more courting for Thomas Toad, all his friends are dead on the road.

So if you care for Thomes the Toad and don’t want to see him alone in the road

Come and help Thomas cross the road, because you know the Green Cross Code.

Keep safe in the dark, wear a bright vest, by helping Thomas, he’ll do the rest.

Do your best to stop death for the toad and help your Thomas across the road!

Stuart Gilder 2016

Stuart Gilder at Hilton Gravelpits 14 May 2017

Stuart was elected as Chairman of Long Eaton Natural History Society Wildlife Group in 2016 and has led meetings, very enthusiastically for the past 4 years. He had an unequalled thirst for knowledge which he would always turn to practical use. The delight on his face when a water vole popped it’s head out of the canal during our ‘Give a Home to a Water Vole Project’ was the picture of delight. With his wife Sue, Stuart took part in Butterfly Transect recording at Erewash Field, Forbes Hole, Toton Washlands and Bennerley. Stuart encouraged LENS outreach and participated in the annual Erewash Borough Council Eco-fair for schools at Pioneer Meadows, Ilkeston Museum Insect Week, DaNES Insect Show and Elvaston Woodland Festival, he loved to help children learn about nature.

Stuart Gilder on the LENS stand at DaNES Insect Show 9 November 2019

One day in 2016 I had a chance meeting with Stuart at Forbes Hole where I was trying  to keep the pondside clear for the wildflowers, one day he realised I needed help, and started to come every week to help to maintain the biodiversity of the site. In 2017 he became the Chairman of the Friends of Forbes Hole and recruited volunteers who were interested in practical conservation work. Fuelled by tea and biscuits, Stuart and his crew cut down huge sycamore trees and reduced the height of other trees, to let light in for flowers. Berry bushes were planted to provide natural food for the birds and it was Stuart who helped to plant the disease resistant elms on the ride when they arrived on New Year’s Day! In 2019 the Friends of Forbes Hole received the Mayor’s Award and in 2020 Stuart was bursting with pride as we received the Green Flag award.

Stuart Gilder with the Friends of Forbes Hole. L-R Martin, Bryan, Stuart, Michael, Lynsey 10 December 2018

Stuart celebrated his 70th birthday last year, he was one of the good ones, he will be mourned by many, but we can all give thanks to have had the privilege of knowing him.

Marion Bryce 16 January 2021


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