I FELT very sad while reading the June Herald article ‘Naturalists farewell founding member’ to note the passing of Ray Paynter.
She was a special person who was a truly knowledgeable, professional lady strongly devoted to her work in bringing about the preservation of our unique flora.
I also felt very proud of my father Albie North who was a founding member and the first president of the Toodyay Naturalists’ Club.
The members of this remarkable little club were a small group of dedicated, hardworking, down-to-earth, nice people.
They had a common goal and were committed to the preservation of local flora and fauna; they complemented each other with their various skills and gave up their valuable time freely and unconditionally.
I feel a great sense of pride to have known them all when I was growing up.
At age 11, I was the youngest member of the club and was taken to each meeting by my parents.
The club’s passion and knowledge evoked my love of, and respect for, our bushland, which I hold very dearly to this day.
Looking back, I now realise how very privileged I was to be a part of this group of inspirational adults.
I remember that some meetings for an 11 year old seemed to drag on.
On many occasions when my dad was about to say, “I now declare this meeting closed”, Wally Chitty would stand up and tell us another of his stories.
Mr Chitty knew so much about the local history, wrote some very interesting books and was a very passionate and valued club member.
I remember meeting a very nice lady by the name of Rica Ericson, who gave me a signed book called Old Toodyay and Newcastle which I still have.
Occasionally my uncle who was a professional bird photographer would bring his colour slides along to show us and on another evening we watched a nature film at John Masters’ property.
We also went on outings to collect seeds or find different plants growing in certain areas, and on these days a picnic lunch was enjoyed by everyone.
This club began 50 years ago in very humble circumstances and I am so proud to see it is still very much alive and going strong today.
Thank you to all the past and present members who have taken on this very important legacy and I wish you good luck in your future endeavours.
Without dedicated people like you to preserve and protect our precious and unique flora and fauna I can only imagine the dreadful loss to future generations if it were destroyed and lost forever.
More and more people are realising the value of our precious resources and the dream of four local farmers who 50 years ago sat around a kitchen table discussing how they could make a difference in their community.