Fleet Pond Society (FPS) is grateful to the large number of people that give funds that help us carry out projects to improve the environment at the Pond, especially the important and very successful Clearwater Campaign.
Sometimes there are interesting personal stories that are connected to this and here’s one of them.
Colin Gray, Chairman of FPS, writes:
“Rod Hall was a casualty engineer (aircraft casualties not passengers) at British Airways on a shift pattern that gave him free time during the week. He is a very enthusiastic conservationist, specialising in wildfowl. He set up the British Airways Assisting Nature Conservation (BAANC) programme, working initially entirely on his own. Rod gained the support from the several management departments which recognised the value of the scheme.
Most aircraft depart with empty cargo space or empty seats and Rod’s idea was to offer free or discounted cargo space for the shipment of equipment and wildfowl species between those working overseas in the conservation field and the captive breeding centres of rare and endangered species in U.K., Europe and USA. He expanded this service to providing free or discounted seats for educators and students on flights with empty seats.
One example of the many organisations that benefited is the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, set up by Gerald Durrell, and based at Jersey Zoo. Students who attend the specialist training school at the Zoo have been able to travel to Jersey from their home countries for conservation and animal husbandry training. Most of the leading conservation organisations benefited from the scheme.
I met Rod in 1983 when he gave a talk on his Churchill Fellowship Award to study the Blue Duck in Australia. He included the BAANC scheme as part of the talk. As I also worked at BA at that time I asked if I could help in any way. It turned out that, as a mobile engineer, he had no office, telephone, or telex (there was no such thing as e-mail then) from which to work so I offered mine (unofficially at first).
I became a sort of communication centre that he could use when passing through and we have been friends ever since. One perk I earned was a trip to Aride, a nature reserve island in the Seychelles. The warden’s radio transceiver (this was 1993 – still no e-mails or mobile phones) had broken down so Rod and I took out a new radio set which Rod installed. He and I were then put to work digging a freshwater pool for the rare birdlife on the island.
BA saw the PR benefits of this work and formed a department which widened the service further to include heritage conservation. All the conservation organisations who had been helped by Rod nominated him and he was awarded the MBE for his conservation work.
Now retired from BA, Rod commutes between his base in Staines and an area of land he has purchased on Quadra Island, off Victoria Island, Canada. Accommodation is a sort of mobile home which he has converted into a comfortable one-bed bungalow. He has applied for Canadian citizenship. Rod is a very modest man and seeks no further recognition for his work. He is now happy to retire to his Quadra paradise where he reports the birdlife is amazing.
He is very interested in what Mavis and I do for Fleet Pond and has generously donated funds towards the Clearwater Campaign.”