Lester Wickham passed away in February 2020
Beowulf Cooper, was the founder of what is now B.I.B.B.A but originally call The Village Bee Breeders Association in 1964, and he would suss out any beekeeper whom he met and if he formed an appreciation of their talents and abilities would get them onto the Committee.
Having bought four colonies of fearsome bees, I was seeking a solution or advice and a visit to Beowulf was suggested. I went down to Thulston, Derbyshire to meet him and found myself on the committee.
It was at the first committee meeting in 1966 that I attended and met Lester, he was Treasurer at the time, a post that he held for over 10 years. He always had a smile and appeared to be ponderous in his speech, a diversion, as I found out, as he took things slowly, whilst working out a strategy or a response to a point. With both of us having a Quantity Surveying back ground, we had an immediate rapport and became good friends. Sometime later, Beo found Tom Robinson from York and the three of us became a trio of tykes.
Lester appreciated what Beowulf was proposing and he and a friend started a queen rearing project in the heights above Holme Firth, long before Compo, Cleggy and Norah Batty entered our lives.
The strong winds over the Pennines proved too much for successful queen mating so they retrenched into the Holme Valley and went for honey, whilst ridding their colonies of bad tempered bees. In his 60’s, Lester had major Heart Bypass surgery, which made him refuse to physically hurry along. He was happy to walk behind Tom and I so long as he did not strain his heart. After leaving the Committee we kept in touch with the annual Christmas Card. He died aged 86, still making plans for the coming season. He leaves his wife Trish and step children.
Lester was a close BIBBA friend of mine during the early ‘build up’ years. We were regular northern representatives on the BIBBA Committee. Lester kindly hosted me overnight as I travelled from Durham to his house in Yorkshire and we travelled together to Beo Cooper’s house in Derbyshire. After Beo’s untimely death he was one of a small dedicated group who decided to continue with BIBBA. Lester served as Treasurer and worked hard to build up membership as we held committee meetings in a variety of places that meant a lot of travelling.
In the Autumn 2003 issue of BIM, Albert Knight wrote:
Lester retired as Treasurer of BIBBA at the AGM
this year after serving in that position for 11 years. During
this time he has guided us through on a steady even
keel financially, and we have much to thank him for.
Lester joined BIBBA back in 1975 at the BIBBA workshop
at Rogate where he was impressed by the reasoning
put forward by Beowulf Cooper for the native bee.
The concepts he learned there he put into practice with
his own beekeeping, which at that time went alongside
keeping sheep on his farm and holding down a job in
Sheffield with a firm of surveyors
When he retired Lester sold the farm and bought a
large house in Holmfirth, this needed much work and
would have daunted fainter hearts, but now this is a
house I am sure Lester and his wife Trish must be proud
I know that since the AGM Lester has been gradually
handing over the job of Treasurer to Tom Robinson, and
this was finalised at a meeting in August. We took the
opportunity to make a presentation to Lester privately
funded by Committee members of a Whisky decanter
and glasses together with a bottle of fine Scotch and a
commemorative plate specially made at Denby pottery
to show our appreciation for his long service as Treasurer.
Lester is to continue serving as the BIBBA Show Secretary,
a job that has been looking for someone to take it
under its wing for several years: we appreciate Lester
taking on this role.