Who is this Ralph Hollins?

Ralph and grandson William
(the only one of the eight that can outdrink me)

Most people visiting this website couldn't care less who the author is, but for those who are interested in the background to the opinions that I express here is a brief C.V. and statement of my views on wildlife conservation.

I was born in Martin Vicarage, close to Martin Down, in 1931. My father was aged 72 and he died when I was six months old leaving my mother to bring up me and my sister (who suffered from Down's syndrome) as a one parent family with less income than one would now get in state aid. Luckily various friends and relations helped out and we moved to Hastings where I have memories of gathering wild flowers on my way to kindergarten and of roaming the fields which backed onto our garden.

At the outbreak of war we moved to live in North Gorley near Fordingbridge and my time was divided between the Avon Valley and New Forest in the holidays and the Cornish coast in term time (at a Clergy Orphan Corporation school evacuated from Canterbury to the cliffs of St Austell bay) giving me an excellent wildlife education.

After the war we moved to Eling at the top of Southampton Water and I continued my exploration of the New Forest as well as becoming acquainted with the bird life of Kent (Blean Woods, Reculver) from the school which had returned to Canterbury. National Service in the RAF at coastal Radar stations took me to Trimley Heath at Felixstowe and Ventnor on the IoW until I went to Oxford and then to work with Boots the Chemists.

After twelve years in Nottingham with Boots where I became a computer programmer (getting a major business application running in 1960) I joined IBM in 1967 and moved to Havant where I have lived ever since, working at Hursley for two years, then at Havant and Cosham before moving into the 'IBM lake' site at Portsmouth in 1983. I retired in 1988 but continued to visit the site regularly until 1996 as 'Wildlife Advisor' which among other things involved organising a programme of visits for local middle schools to a 'nature trail' which I set up (there is still a 'Children's Pond' at the west end of the site).

I married a musician (Meg is a flautist and pianist as well as being a clergyman's daughter) soon after I started work and we brought up three children in a home full of music - the music and young pupils continue to fill the house but the children have departed into the world of business (my first son followed me into IBM but has now moved on), art (my second son has an Arts degree), and the church (my daughter is currently a vicar with a church in Richmond, Surrey). All three children are now married and so far I have eight grandchildren.

In the 1980's, with the children taking less of my time, I returned to my interest in wildlife and joined the Hampshire Wildlife Trust and Hampshire Ornithological Society, serving on committees of both and taking an active part in their 'field work'. In my own mind my major achievement was to establish a Wildlife Trust member's group in Havant which is still thriving and which set the model for the 'District Groups' which became an official part of the Trust organisation many years after we made our breakaway from the original 'Area' organisation. Quite unknown to me, and spurred on by Gwynne Johnson, a large number of local people gave their support to a proposal that I should receive some reward for my work and thus my wife had her second trip to Buckingham Palace in as many years. The first was to accompany her twin brother to receive an MBE for his lifetime work designing, building and maintaining most of the church organs in Ireland and Scotland, the second to accompany me on a similar trip for much less deserved MBE.

After a busy 25 year period devoted to the promotion of wildlife conservation I have decided to 'take it easy' after my 75th birthday in July 2006 and can no longer promise to maintain this website for ever but will do my best to do so as long as possible. This does not imply any diminution of my interest in wildlife - the main reason for reducing this and other commitments is to give me more time to observe and enjoy the natural world