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Richard Slocock

Dear Members. 

As some of you will have heard or read, our Chairman, Richard Slocock has been battling with cancer for the past 6 to 12 months. 

Sadly, on Saturday 13th 2024 at 2200 hrs he died peacefully at home with Sally and his family at his side. 

Many of you will have known Richard for much longer than I have and will have lots of memories.  I first met Richard in the early 1980s when Walter Drax asked me to look after the Charborough Estate water on the Piddle at Warren Lane and the Frome at Longmead as part of my forestry duties for the Estate.   I politely protested but was instructed to ‘go and speak to Richard Slocock, he knows everything about chalk streams, and so it was.  Richard loved the Warren Lane beat. 

Richard was our chairman; off and on for nearly 40 years.  To say he was passionate about chalk streams and fishing would be a huge understatement.  He cared for both rivers and had a detailed knowledge of them both and what the issues were on each system. 

Many of those issues remain, over water abstraction, water pollution, barriers to migrating fish and now the threat from beavers.  He worked so hard about something that he lived and breathed.  He had crystal vision about the problems and in the early 1980s Richard took a stand against Wessex Water, stopping them from sucking the River Piddle dry. It took him many years to get Wessex Water to halve the abstraction and install mitigation flows to the middle river of the Piddle.

In the mid 1990’s, Richard and Charles Rangley-Wilson; with help from others founded the Wild Trout Society (later to become the Wild Trout Trust) to promote and improve natural habitat for trout and fly life, to introduce riparian fencing which would in turn improve bankside margins along rivers, improve fly life and help prevent erosion.  Back then, this was unheard of.  Many of those ‘conservation’ measures are now widely used across the country.  He was the first WTT Chairman for several years and was awarded the Bernard Venables Award for Conservation in 2006.  He was very proud of this. 

By the mid 2000’s, Richard and I linked arms to build some salmon fish passes with some financial help from the Environment Agency. We also raised a lot of money ourselves. Eventually, the Louds Mill pass was built at Dorchester in 2008 and there was a great fanfare, the first salmon went through only two weeks later.    Once he had done one, he went on to build others at Palmers Brewery and Gundries Weir on the River Brit in West Dorset, before returning in 2016 to finish off with a wonderful fish pass at Notton on the upper Frome.   A book could be written about this one topic alone. 

 

 

 

Many of you may have been lucky enough to have had a casting lesson or two with Richard at Lawrence Farm.  He made casting look effortless, even with some of his rather dodgy tackle. In the early 1990’s Richard formed ‘The Register of Experienced Instructor and Schools’ (REFFIS), its aim was to establish a network of fly-fishing teachers with a qualification to teach casting, simply.  Soon there was a teacher in almost every corner of the country.  He felt strongly that others were making it too difficult to become a qualified casting instructor. 

The F & P meetings were always rather fun and very good natured, and the Association tried hard to tackle some of the big issues affecting our chalk streams.  We were blessed to have his wisdom, experience and wide piscatorial knowledge and throughout all this time, he had the most wonderful back-up team in Sally, and what a team they made.

Via Richard, the F & P worked closely with the Salmon & Trout Association and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust and the EA / NRA. 

Many of you will have your own stories about Richard, and the Association would love to hear them, so we can pass them on the Sally and especially if any of you have some nice photos. 

He is so missed by us all, we have lost a real champion, a dear and good friend.  The riverbank will sadly never be the same. 

Richard had a private family funeral however there will be a memorial service for him on the 3rd April at 2.30pm, this is to be held at Milton Abbey, we would be pleased if members are able to attend to celebrate his life.

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