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Conservationist and ex-policeman Fred Booth from Maidstone has died

A former policeman and highly regarded conservationist has died.

Fred Booth was born in Bexleyheath, but had been a resident of Madginford Road, Bearsted, for over 30 years.

Fred Booth
Fred Booth

In 2011, he was made an MBE for his services to conservation and the environment, and in February 2019 he was further honoured by the Prime Minister with a Point of Light Award for his outstanding public service, joining Captain Tom as one of the recipients of the award.

Born in 1929, Mr Booth was educated at Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury, but had to postpone his university entrance to do his National Service.

Back on Civvy Street in 1950, he decided not to go to university after all but instead opted for a career in the police.

He served all over the county, mainly in CID, and was based in Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Sevenoaks, Canterbury, Folkestone and had several postings in Maidstone.

He retired from the police as a Chief Superintendent in 1982, which gave him more time to devote to his passion of wildlife and conservation.

'He was never still and didn't know how to say No to any request'

He had been the the first director of the Kent Wildlife Trust but after a few years in post opted for a more hands-on role as a volunteer, running educational groups and completing nature surveys. He initiated the Kent Marine Conservation group, which involved surveying the whole of the Kent coast.

His sister, Madeline Eccott, who lives in Wales, said: "Fred's knowledge on anything to do with wildlife, birds, the sunrise - was just phenomenal.

"He was a person who was never still. He didn't know how to say no and would take on any request, no matter how busy he was already."

Mr Booth married his wife Margaret in 1950. The couple had no children.

In recent years, she became seriously ill after a stroke and she developed dementia and he was her carer for four years, though he himself developed bowel cancer.

Fred Booth loved nature
Fred Booth loved nature

In October 2019, they both moved into the Ashurst Park Care Home in Fordcombe near Tunbridge Wells, where he died on August 29, aged 91.

Mrs Eccott said: "We can see from the tremendous number of sympathy messages we have received that he was a mentor to so many people and he will be greatly missed."

His cremation will be at Vinters Park Crematorium in Maidstone on Thursday, September 23, at 2pm.

Family flowers only. Donations if desired can be made by cheque to either the Kent Wildlife Trust or the Dogs Trust, via Southborough Funeral Directors, 126A London Road, Southborough, TN4 0PL.

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