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Obituary: Norfolk's very own 'Batman' John Goldsmith dies aged 69

PUBLISHED: 13:48 23 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:44 23 March 2019

One of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Denise Bradley

One of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Denise Bradley

One of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69.

One of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Simon FinlayOne of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Simon Finlay

A former president of the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists’ Society, he was always willing to share his knowledge with fellow wildlife enthusiasts and the wider public.

He was also a founding member of the Norfolk Bat Group and launched a major project in the 1970s to identify every known bat roost.

Known as Norfolk’s “Batman” for his expert knowledge, he was the first port of call for journalists on the subject.

He started what became a dream job at the castle museum in Norwich as an 18-year-old in the then natural history department.

One of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Denise BradleyOne of the most influential Norfolk naturalists in his native county for more than five decades, John Goldsmith, has died at home aged 69. Photo: Denise Bradley

It was there he became a self-taught taxidermist and catalogued hundred of specimens, some almost 200 years old.

For 20 years, he was ringing birds for the British Trust for Ornithology, now based at Thetford.

In June 1973, he identified the first distance recovery of a Cetti’s Warbler in Norfolk, which had been originally ringed in August 1970 in Belgium. It had hit the window of a house on a new estate near Norwich and was officially accepted as a record.

He was to spend a total of 39 years at the museum, becoming assistant keeper, and during the last part of his career as manager of the Norfolk Biological Records Centre, based at Gressenhall Museum.

(1/2 Copy Gill Jenkins  EDI) Norfolk Biological Records officer John Goldsmith, with from left, chairman of Norwich County Council John Sheppard, coun. Barbara Hacker, Archaeology and Envirnment Officer Brian Ayers and Keith Skipper in the facility at Gressenhall.(1/2 Copy Gill Jenkins EDI) Norfolk Biological Records officer John Goldsmith, with from left, chairman of Norwich County Council John Sheppard, coun. Barbara Hacker, Archaeology and Envirnment Officer Brian Ayers and Keith Skipper in the facility at Gressenhall.

After some five years, he decided to follow his passion and set up Aurum Ecology using his great skills and knowledge as a wildlife consultant, working alongside his wife.

A trustee of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust for eight years, he did much to champion the cause of bats and change attitudes.

As his enthusiasm for bats remained undiminished, he went to “night school” to learn pottery. His design of a bat hibernation brick, was so successful that it is now made by a specialist brick company.

They have been placed across Britain in mitigation projects for developments including the Channel Tunnel.

John Goldsmith identified the first distance recovery of a Cetti's warbler      Photo: Steve PlumeJohn Goldsmith identified the first distance recovery of a Cetti's warbler Photo: Steve Plume

Married to Sue for 39 years, they had bought a run-down cottage in Seething in 1979, which became their home. He leaves a younger brother, Robert.

A celebration of his life will be held at Green Acres, Colney, on Monday, March 25 at 3pm.

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