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Obituary: John Fawcett – New Forest deer expert

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A DISTINGUISHED scientist with a lifelong love of New Forest deer has died at the of 92.

John Fawcett's deep interest in the New Forest and its native roe deer led to him retiring to Brockenhurst where he studied and documented the animals for over 30 years.

John was born on 6th June 1929 in Essex and from 1932 to 1989 lived near Epsom in Surrey.

John Fawcett
John Fawcett

After private preliminary schooling, concluding at Ewell Castle School, John was educated during the war years 1939 44 at Glyn Grammar School, followed in 1944-47 at Sutton County Grammar School where he gained his Higher School Certificate with Intermediate BSc exemption.

He started his professional career with a laboratory post at a local hospital where at the end of 1948 he met future wife Jeanne, and they married in 1952.

In 1950 John was appointed to sole responsibility for the rudimentary laboratory of the professorial surgical unit at St Mary’s Hospital, London.

Under his charge over the next 11 years this expanded rapidly and, with a staff of 10, also serviced the first British metabolic unit.

In the pioneer days of artificial kidneys, the laboratory supported one of the first three British dialysis teams treating patients with renal failure.

After several years of research, John moved into an administrative role in the Institute of Biomedical Science, rising to chief executive until his retirement in 1989.

Throughout his life, starting at a very young age, John had a love of wildlife and animals – in particular the New Forest's roe deer.

Son Vernon said: “My father and my mother both loved the New Forest, visiting frequently before their move there, spending many happy hours watching deer and other wildlife such as badgers and foxes.

“The deer were a complete passion of my father, and his lifelong aim was to move to the Forest.”

When he finally settled in Brockenhurst in 1989 John embarked on what he sometimes called his third career – his major project being an intensive 12-year study of New Forest roe deer, and his consequent report was published by the People's Trust for Endangered Species.

John was a member of the Mammal Society and a founder member of the British Deer Society which was set up in the 1960s.

He was also a keen photographer and author of many magazine articles (in Country Life and BBC Wildlife, for example) and booklets of his own, most notably Roe Deer in 1997 (Mammal Society and British Deer Society) and New Forest Roe Deer in 2003 (People's Trust for Endangered Species).

He contributed numerous photographs to the still highly acclaimed, authoritative book Fallow Deer published in 1976.

He had been the first chair of the photographic committee of the British Deer Society and was appointed to its national council in 1978-82.

In 2011 John was asked to join the council of the New Forest Association – now the Friends of the New Forest, and served for three years.

Vernon said: “My father lived a very varied life but the years living in Brockenhurst were the happiest for both him and my mother who shared his love of animals.

“They just loved being able to walk out of their front door and into the Forest where they could enjoy all the wildlife, especially the deer.”

John leaves wife Jeanne, sons Raymond and Vernon, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. John and Jeanne would have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in August this year.

A celebration of John's life was held at the Forest Park Hotel, Brockenhurst, where the couple had previously marked their diamond wedding anniversary.

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