08/07/2002
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Guardian Spirit of the East Bank

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Guardian Spirit of the East Bank is a new book written by Moss Taylor, which will be published in August 2002. It is a celebration of the life of the acclaimed bird artist and field ornithologist Richard Richardson, who died at Cley in 1977.

The 232 pages are lavishly illustrated with examples of Richard's watercolours and line drawings, as well as many of his personal photographs. In order to show off his paintings to the best effect, the book is in A4 format and is hardback with a dust wrapper. The book will cost £35.

The eighteen chapters include accounts of Richard's early birdwatching days in St James's Park, London (when he was a teenager), his wartime service in India, Ceylon and Singapore between 1943 and 1946, and his subsequent return to Norfolk. Much of the information for this period of his life is taken from his personal birdwatching diaries.

The history of Cley Bird Observatory occupies three chapters. These golden days, cherished by so many of the older generation of birdwatchers, are brought to life through personal memories of those fortunate enough to be around at the time. Other chapters include fascinating facts about Richard's life in Cley, incorporating thumb-nail sketches of some of the other Cley characters, such as his landlady, Mrs Davison and his close friends Peggy Meiklejohn and Liz Forster.

Richard also had a great liking for Shetland and in particular, Fair Isle. Another chapter is devoted to this aspect of his life. Perhaps the greatest surprise will be the chapter containing the poetry that he had written over the years.

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As Robert Gillmor states in his informative and generous Foreword, "It is abundantly clear from the many enthusiastic testimonies in this book that Richard Richardson had a great and benign influence on generations of birdwatchers...I am sure this book will be an inspiration to a new generation of young birders, amongst whom are many with a talent for drawing. I hope they will be encouraged by Richard's story to develop their own skills. He would be pleased if it does."

The book will be launched at an exhibition of Richard's art and memorabilia to be held at the Cley Parish Church of St Margaret's from Friday 9th to Sunday 11th August 2002. The launch, itself, will be held at a reception, for contributors and other invited guests, on the Friday evening. The exhibition will be open to the public on Saturday between 10am and 6pm, and on the Sunday between 11am and 6pm.

Signed copies of the book, at a special offer price of £30 will be available at the exhibition at Cley and the following weekend on the BTO stand at the British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water.