Charles Richard Francis Hedley


Died 23rd January 2016

Charles Richard Francis Hedley was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne on August 23, 1935. He inspired so many with his love of nature and passion for conservation. He is loved by us all and will be greatly missed by his friends and family.

Here is a link to The Guardian piece written by Richard's son: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/28/richard-hedley-obituary

Tony Johnson writes:


Richard studied for his BSc degree at Durham University and obtained an MSc from York University in 1983. I think he joined Price’s staff in 1961. He soon made his mark playing a part in a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, “Patience”, directed by Tony Hiles.

In 1965 Richard started an under rugby 15 team and newly arrived Tony Johnson started an under 14 team. It soon became apparent that two teams were not viable, so we joined forces, coaching respectively forwards and backs for a few years. Richard coached with total enthusiasm and commitment. From a hockey and soccer school Michael Genge and Mark Fisher both played rugby for Hampshire colts. Inevitably the students soon challenged a ragtag team of staff, some of whom had played decent rugby in their time. We both sneaked our boots out of our houses, not daring to tell our wives. Richard’s determined play, combined with his baldness, left him with a wound on his scalp impossible to hide from his wife. On the strength of coaching we obtained tickets for Twickenham and Richard’s wife, Jean, joined in those trips, which became a fixture for us for many years.

As Head of Biology he, along with the other Heads of Science introduced Nuffield Science around the late 60s or early 70s. It was a fundamental change in teaching science brought off with hard graft and skill. Students’ learning experiences in science improved immensely without them necessarily noticing what had happened. A hole appeared in the ground on a waste patch west of the gymnasium; a churning lorry turned up and tipped concrete into it; and in no time a greenhouse was housing plants for botany lessons: Richard’s doing.

Richard identified the need for another minibus and set about with gusto to raise the money. I hope it wasn’t the one with the difficult gears. No matter. He was prime mover. Once he set his mind to do something he carried it through with determination. He decided he was going to sail. Cyril Briscoe helped him. He joined Lee-on- Solent sailing club and sailed a GP14 for several years. This was turned to students’ benefit because he was one of those who helped in the house sailing competitions. Later on he bought a Trapper 300 called 6X after a beer made by Wadsworth’s of Devizes. Generous with his time and skill, he helped my wife buy a dinghy and crewed it in races on Tuesday evenings when I was playing cricket for the staff team. His will to win was curbed while he taught her. He set his mind to learn the pipes of his beloved Northumbria and did.

The Sixth Form College students concocted a scheme to find the super teacher by setting physical tasks to perform in the gymnasium. Richard tied for first place with Ian Wilkie, a younger man, and a play off was called for. A thrilling race to complete the final task ended with Richard coming second, saving the over forties’ honour.

In retirement he worked hard at the Hampshire Wildlife Trust’s Chappett’s Copse to extend the numbers of a rare orchid he had identified, he continued sailing and singing with the Lee Singers. He had a large extended family on which he doted and helped in many practical ways. He knew his last illness would end in death and with the biologist’s awareness of the waxing and waning of life and with his Christian faith he met death with quiet dignity. Appropriately he was piped out of his church by Northumbrian pipers.

At lunch on hearing of Richard’s passing my son 30 years on proceeded to tell us precisely how Richard had taught him about osmosis. “He was a good teacher,” he said without hesitation. Known as “Deadly” Hedley by Price’s pupils (I don’t know why), colleagues saw him as a forthright, straight and loyal colleague. He was dear friend for over 50 years.