It is with great sadness that we announce the death of George Challenger.
George was a committed friend, volunteer and conservationist who worked with us here at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
He was involved with the management of Millers Dale Quarry for almost 50 years.
In 1970 he played a lead part in the negotiations to acquire the ex-quarry from ICI. The land was passed to the Peak District National Park who lease it to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The wildlife value of the site was recognized very early on.
George lead monthly volunteer work parties every winter for over 30 years from 1973 until 2007. He welcomed everyone who came along and his work ensured that the wonderful array of flowers that can be found on the reserve flourish to this day.
George and Janet, his wife, kindly hosted the annual Millers Dale reserve committee meetings at their house every year.
In addition to all the work that George put in during the winter, he would also spend a considerable amount of time during the spring and summer recording the flowers found both at Millers Dale and in the wider countryside.
George had an extensive knowledge of the flora of the Peak District and knew where many rare plants were to be found. He really loved flowers and inspired others to find out more whilst keeping his own detailed records of many plants. Every year he would survey the Daphne mezareum and send the Wildlife Trust through all the locations and status of each plant. He spoke about the excitement of finding this unusual flowering shrub during the early years.
George also had a fantastic collection of old photos from the Millers Dale area which he generously shared with the Trust a few years ago. They really show how the area has changed throughout the decades. He also arranged and paid for the replacement of the oak post half way up the slope to the top of the limekilns in Chee Dale. This post helped guide the small quarry trucks up to the top of the kiln. He was very keen to preserve the history of the area.
In addition to all his voluntary work for the Trust he also played a key role in the Old House Museum in Bakewell.
The central platform at Millers Dale station is a great example of Georges passion for the wild flowers of the Peak District. He collected seeds from many of the plants to be found in the area, grew them on and then planted them out at Millers Dale Station. Many of them are still there. If you want to show someone what Jacobs ladder looks like, take them to Millers Dale Station.
We are so sorry to hear of his passing, and pass on our condolences to his family.