Like many charities, BHS relies on donations in various forms to fund its activities and meet its aims and objectives. We pride ourselves that our running costs (including the production and distribution of our publications) is covered by membership fees, but with spiralling costs each year there is little left for funding of other important and often unique projects in research and conservation.
BHS has been very fortunate to have been the beneficiary of two large legacies that have boosted our conservation fund and hence our ability to contribute significantly to some important projects.
In January 2019 we heard the sad news that Ronald Ward-Howlett had passed away aged 86. Mr Ward Howlett was a long-standing member of the BHS although we lost contact in recent years when he evidently resided in a nursing home. As a professional he had been in banking and finance, listing herpetology as his main interest. He sadly died with no known surviving relatives and left a large and complicated estate to three equal beneficiaries: British Herpetological Society, Zoological Society of London and the Linnean Society of London.
In January 2020 we received the legacy from Mr Ward Howlett’s estate, a cheque to the value £36,000. In May 2021, we received a further legacy payment of £30,000. Executing the estate is complicated by the fact that the owner of the residential home where Mr Ward Howlett died has since been jailed for fraud so there are complicated legal matters which are ongoing.
Another long-standing BHS member, Mr Michael Warburg died in December 2020. Mr Warburg was an engineer in automation technology but had a passion for great crested newts, and in retirement was active with Friends of Chorleywood Common (after founding the organisation in 1990), later becoming its president. He left a legacy of £10,000 to BHS in his will, with an additional gift of £20,000 being added by his surviving wife, Rosemary. We cannot overstate how very grateful we are for the legacies gifted to the Society.
We are saddened by these losses to our membership but humbled by their generosity in passing. These legacies will be recognised as they are assigned to well deserving causes that meet the Society’s aims and objectives. Such kind gifts significantly contribute to the conservation of our native reptiles and amphibians, for example with the recent purchase of Blackmoor in Hampshire and Parley Common in Dorset, to which BHS donated £25,000 and £10,000 respectively.
By leaving a bequest to the Society you too can help to secure the future for our native reptiles and amphibians, and contribute to their study and conservation. There has never been a more important moment; the world’s herpetofauna faces threats of unprecedented scale, and only a great deal more work – which inevitably means more money - has any chance of alleviating this situation. The BHS has the necessary expertise and influence, but only limited funds, to make an impact in this vital area.
A legacy to the BHS is a gift that will live forever.