Mike Wearing, the popular Hampshire conservationist and former Petersfield Post columnist, died on September 8, at the age of 84.
For many years Mike’s Country Park Notes detailed his day-to-day encounters with the natural world through his work at Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
Born in 1939 just over the Hampshire/Surrey border, Mike grew up in the shadow of the Hogs Back at Tongham.
A wartime bombing raid on Tongham railyard saw a near miss when Mike’s mother bundled him up in the tablecloth as they sheltered beneath the kitchen table. A neighbour watching from the doorway of the next door house was killed by shrapnel.
Following National Service and Forestry School in Scotland, Mike married Coralie Bullen in 1964 and the couple moved to the Forest of Dean, where Mike worked for the Forestry Commission.
Their daughter, Nicki, was born in 1966 and son, Tim, followed in 1971.
The early 1970s saw Mike become the country’s first conservation forester, based at Chawton Park Woods near Four Marks and when Queen Elizabeth Country Park was formed in 1975, Mike took up a long-term position as senior countryside interpreter, placing him at the forefront of the newly-emerging nature conservation movement.
Mike’s work saw him come into contact with everyone from Queen Elizabeth II – who formally opened the Country Park Visitor Centre – to children from inner-city schools encountering the natural world for the first time.
The Wearing family lived on site at QECP, with Coralie working on reception at the Park Centre and later managing the shop. For their children, the 1,400 acres of woodland and downland was an exciting playground.
From 1993, Mike became countryside ranger at Bordon’s Deadwater Valley Trust, managing the woodland river valley running adjacent to the town for the next 15 years until he retired aged 70.
An enthusiast birder, Mike was at various times president of the Hampshire Badger Group and Hampshire Bat Group, while in retirement, an interest in moths took up much of his attention, along with tending his three Portsmouth allotments.