by Peter Mathews
Phillip took up beekeeping in 1982, shortly after retiring from I.C.I where he was employed for many years as a research chemist. He brought with him a keen interest in natural history together with a disciplined scientific mind. His meticulous attention to detail made him a model beekeeper. His hives were always immaculate and benchmark for cleanliness. But, with his strong traditional views, he didn’t keep anything other than WBC hives.
I first met Phillip and Anne a few years later when I attended a ‘bee meeting’ in his beautiful garden in High Oaks Road. The month was June, the day hot and the sky blue. All this was before oil seed rape, varroa and wax moth had appeared on the scene. A gentle examination of his hives was rounded off with tea and huge quantities of cake on the terrace. They were wonderful days.
By ’86, Phillip had taken on the job of treasurer for the Welwyn association. Shortly after he took on the same role for HBKA. I have been unable to find a precise date, as everyone seems to be of the firm opinion that he had always been treasurer. Certainly, he held the position for something like 20 years until his retirement in March of this year. By the ‘90’s he had also taken on the chore of printing the newsletter on a hand cranked Gestetner. This involved waiting for the ink to dry on side one before printing off side two. This lasted until stencils became unavailable. Few people can really appreciate just the amount of time involved.
Phillip was a wonderful person to work with. He was never one to shun his duties, ceaselessly asking others if they needed help. Phillip could always be relied upon. During the course of this year he was still collecting swarms, helping with the Welwyn Street Market and he co-ordinated the Welwyn honey stall at Bee World in September.
Phillip demonstrated many ‘old fashioned’ qualities ever polite, courteous, reliable and always considerate and respectful of others. How often he reminded us of the ‘proper’ way of doing things. He was also an extremely modest man, never seeking the spotlight or looking for recognition. He just got on with the job. Phillip combined great dignity with warmth and friendliness, a rare quality. Perhaps, I most admired his skills as a diplomat, bringing calmness and common sense to a heated argument.
Phillip had numerous other interests. He had a large and beautiful garden, and was very much involved in the Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust. He greatly enjoyed playing bowls and was a keen bridge player. During chance conversation, I also discovered we shared an interest in caving, and that we had several friends in common from his younger days whilst at Sidcot school on the Mendips.
Phillip died suddenly on the evening of Monday, 19th November following a heart attack at the age of 82. Our heart felt condolences go to Anne, his children Alan, Susan and Gillian and other family members. He will be greatly missed.