Antony Wainwright – an obituary
A few days ago the industry was shocked to hear the news that leading golf ecologist Antony Wainwright had died at the age of just 42. His colleague, the STRI’s Bob Taylor, reflects on the short life of the former greenkeeper
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of my colleague and friend, Antony Wainwright. Antony sadly passed away on August 3, 2014 leaving his wife Lyndsey and two children, Willow, aged six, and Rowan, aged two, his mother and father Sandra and Neil and his brother Andrew and sister Joanne.
Antony was born in Bolton, Lancashire and throughout his school life was devoted to developing his skills in bird identification and ecology which later led him to complete a university degree in ecology and ecology management. He took a job as a greenkeeper at Turton Golf Club, which in a remarkable twist of fate was where I first met him.
Antony entered the STRI Golf Environment Awards in 2011 and was successful in winning the Conservation Greenkeeper of the Year award. Part of his prize was a trip to see a range of sustainable managed golf clubs in southern Portugal and we were accompanied by Darran Marshall, assistant greenkeeper at Loch Lomond, whose club won the Outstanding Golf Club of the Year award 2011.
We arrived at our hotel in Portugal at around 10pm in the dark and when we met for a drink in the bar Antony reeled off a number of birds he had already seen, including spoonbill and common crane. Both Darran and I were sceptical and impressed at the same time.
Next morning Antony’s findings were confirmed and he went on to identify many foreign birds by their call alone.
He made me realise just how lucky we all are working in an industry that is built around and within the environment, working with individuals and organisations that are together working towards that common goal of conserving landscapes, which are such an integral part of the golf courses we play.
I realised very quickly that Antony’s skills were rather special and this was one of the reasons STRI employed him in January 2014. He was with us only a short time, but what an impact he made. His passion, enthusiasm and professionalism shone through and this coupled with honesty, humility and integrity resulted in him making a strong impression on all those he met. Within days of announcing his death we have been inundated with letters of condolence from those lucky enough to have spent some time with Antony, expressing their thoughts that, in time, Antony would have gone on to achieve so much in the conservation of our diminishing habitats and species within golf.
Thank you to you all for your kind words and I just wish Antony could have shared more of his passion to a much wider greenkeeping audience. He will be missed and this is a tragedy for all those around him, including his family, close friends and colleagues within the golfing industry.
Comments from colleagues
“Words cannot explain how I feel at the news of Antony’s passing. I have known for a few days now and am still in total shock. Antony lit a fuse in my heart for wild birds and it was always a fun and knowledge-learning experience to spend time with him. His passion for wildlife was second to none and expertise in birds was amazing. I will cherish our time spent together in Portugal and on his visits to Loch Lomond, both professional and personal.
“I was proud to call him my friend, fly high Antony. God bless.”
Senior greenkeeper at Loch Lomond Golf Club
“Message for a lost friend: I found you to be a gentle, caring man whose humble approach put everyone instantly at ease. Without your passion and knowledge, our industry has become a sadder place!
“My thoughts are with your loved ones x.”
Greenkeeper at Dundonald Links
“I am shocked and saddened to hear this terrible news. I had had a great morning with Antony out on the courses at Minchinhampton just a couple of weeks ago and was looking forward to inviting him back next year to carry out a breeding bird survey for us. His knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for all things ecology was infectious and inspirational – I’m far more tuned in to the bird life on the courses now thanks to spending only a short time with him teaching me some of the bird calls.
“A truly nice man who was a fantastic ambassador for our industry and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts go to his family at this difficult time.”
Ecology coordinator at Minchinhampton Golf Club
“Antony was such a nice guy and a massive voice for nature in the golfing industry. He will be sadly missed. Sympathies to his family and friends.”
Assistant greenkeeper at John O‘Gaunt Golf Club
“A true ambassador for golf and the environment and a gentleman of whom I have the highest respect for. I am deeply shocked and we as a group must continue to drive Antony’s passion onto all those outside and within the industry as a mark of respect. I will certainly be marking his departure in the form of an environment / ecology project this winter. RIP my dear friend.
“God bless, Dan.”
Dan McGrath MG
Course Manager at North Foreland Golf Club
“Very sad news indeed. Antony’s enthusiasm for his beloved subject was infectious and having carried out a breeding bird survey for us recently and only receiving the report on Monday I will also ensure that all recommendations are completed as a mark of respect to a lovely man. Please send all messages of respect to the family for us Bob. Deepest sympathies. Euan.”
Golf courses and estates manager at Turnberry Resort
“Words are sometimes not enough. Today is a sad day for all who knew Antony personally, a very compassionate human being. He lived his whole life doing what he was passionate about. God bless, ABA.”
Alexandra Betâmio de Almeida
Sustainable development advisor in Portugal
“I only met Antony the once, he was a kind and knowledgeable man. My heart goes out to his family.”
First assistant at Elsham Golf Club