Obituary: Robert Hawkesworth (1935-2015)

15 January 2016

Society news

Robert Hawkesworth, born in 1935, passed away suddenly on 29th October 2015 just a few days after his 80th Birthday.

Robert was as fine a man as you could ever wish to meet. We first met at a Nature Group event in the early 90’s and found we shared a common interest in photographing wild flowers. Robert and his wife, Barbara, plus my parents and I, became good friends and often visited each other’s homes.  We also enjoyed a couple of vacations together. I have many fond memories of those times together.  Robert was always so very entertaining and had so many amusing tales to share. 

Despite the fact that we had much in common, I knew little about his early life.  I have only recently discovered that his father was a designer of steam locomotives and that the family often moved from one railway centre to another – living near the workshops of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway in Horwich and later at Crewe and Derby.  Robert was a chemistry graduate and taught Chemistry for much of his working life, advancing to Deputy Head Teacher. He must have been a wonderful teacher as many of his past pupils kept in touch with him throughout his life. After thirty-six years in the teaching profession he took the opportunity of an early retirement in 1993.

What I am certain of is that Robert was an excellent photographer who would try his hand with most natural history subjects.  Hardly surprising therefore that he joined the RPS and the Nature Group.  His main subjects of interest were flowers and fungus - he achieved his Fellowship in September 2000 with a slide submission of plants and was invited to sit on the Nature Distinctions Panel in 2005. He was a stalwart member of the Nature Group Committee for many years and served as Secretary from 1998 to 2003 and then as Chairman from 2003 - 2005.  He continued to serve as a valued committee member until the AGM in Spring 2011. For many years Robert ran a number of Field Meetings for the group in the Derbyshire Dales during the late Spring and fungi forays in Nottinghamshire in the Autumn - these were always very well supported by members. He was awarded the Nature Group Silver Medal for Service to the Nature Group in 2009.

Robert was also a member and Past-Chairman of Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers, Secretary of the Derbyshire Hardy Plants Society and a member of both the Nottingham Natural History Society, Keyworth Photographic Society and the N.P.P. (Nature Photographers Portfolio).  He was an excellent lecturer and gave talks to photographic societies and wildlife trusts at venues all across the East Midlands as well as further afield.  He also organised and ran residential photography workshops at a number of venues including How Hill in Norfolk.  His natural history knowledge and photographic skill were also called upon to judge the work of others and he regularly sat as a selector in the Nature category at both National and International Salons. 

Robert was known and respected by many. He was one of life’s true gentlemen. Generous with both his time and his knowledge and it was a pleasure to spend time in his company.  He will be missed by many; members of the nature photography fraternity, as well as others. I know that all those who knew him would want to extend their sympathies to his wife and family. 

Dawn Osborn FRPS

Image by Robert Hawkesworth