23 Apr 2020

Bob Edney: countryside officer

A private funeral ceremony was held on Wednesday 22 April for Bob Edney, one of the Isle of Wight Council's longest-serving officers. Coming from an Island family Bob, from Wootton, started work for the Isle of Wight County Council in 1980. He worked in the countryside service for over 39 years until his death in March this year.

Almost everyone on the Island will have benefited from Bob’s work. He had many job titles over the years but all of them involved caring for the council’s range of country parks, nature reserves and green spaces. Bob’s careful stewardship of these local havens for wildlife and people was a mainstay of the council’s countryside work for nearly four decades. As well as the usual ranger skills of visitor and habitat management, Bob was particularly good at working with other landowners and agencies to find agreement and move projects forward. He had a particularly longstanding involvement with and commitment to the Wight Nature Fund, a local charity that manages several small reserves around the Island. His wise advice and gentle persistence delivered much to benefit wildlife and landscape work across the Isle of Wight. Bob will be greatly missed as a friendly, reliable and helpful face of the council by many landowners, parish councils, schools and charities.

Although he worked across the whole Island, Bob was most strongly associated with Fort Victoria Country Park where he began working in 1982 as Fort Victoria Ranger. He continued to manage the country park throughout most of his career, seeing it through many challenges and developments. He was particularly proud of the big improvements to the park and its facilities that were carried out in 2013-14 as part of the lottery-funded West Wight Landscape Partnership. Many thousands of schoolchildren and students over the years enjoyed learning about the countryside and coast from Bob at Fort Victoria, and the park continues to be a popular attraction today.

Bob’s affable enthusiasm, alongside his extensive knowledge and understanding of the Isle of Wight's countryside also inspired many others: rangers who worked for Bob have gone on to work for the National Trust, the Wildlife Trust, and many other organisations. Bob trained and encouraged hundreds of volunteers, some of whom went on to find employment in the countryside field.

Cabinet Member for Environment and Heritage, Councillor John Hobart, said: “Within the council, Bob was a well-liked and much-respected officer.

“He was an intensely private man, but the one aspect of his life he was always willing to share was his knowledge and understanding of the countryside.

“When somebody has done an important job so well, for so long, it is sometimes hard to understand what we have until we lose it.

“We, his friends and colleagues, along with so many others on the Island, will miss Bob: his diligence, his skill and knowledge, his quiet patience, and above all his rich and genuine love for the countryside of the Isle of Wight."

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Bob Edney at work in 2011
Bob Edney at work in 2011
  • Bob, from Wootton, started work for the Isle of Wight County Council in 1980
Isle of Wight, UK