The passing of an extraordinary man

by on Mar.06, 2013, under Cheviot Valleys, Choppington Woods, Family and friends, North Pennines, Northumberland

Most people adopt children.  Somehow we adopted a cantankerous septuagenarian…

When we first met Jim, eleven years ago, he was already in his 70’s, but still very active and taking long walks in the countryside and camping most weekends.  Retired for over a decade at that point, he became the first Treasurer of the Friends of Choppington Woods.  He had a stroke in 2005 and was left unable to drive, so one of us, or Glen, would go and collect him so that he could attend FOCW meetings.  We kept an eye on him and when we first started NEWT, and Martin had a lot of time on his hands, the two of them started going out around the Cheviot valleys and the North Pennines – two areas that Jim had studied extensively throughout his life.  His boundless knowledge of the North Pennines, and its mining history and flora, was responsible for the itineraries that we developed for our trips to that area.  Over time Jim was becoming less physically able; walks in the countryside followed by lunch became drives in the countryside followed by lunch and inevitably became drives to a nice pub for lunch.  Discussions about book-collecting (a shared passion) and the natural history and landscape of Northumberland, County Durham and Scotland filled many, many hours and Jim inspired Martin’s interests in lichens, pollen analysis and botany.  When he became ill in 2010, and moved into a residential care home, we took on the responsibility of keeping his close friends informed of how he was, and making sure that anything he needed was provided.

That responsibility meant that three weeks ago we had to let his friends know that he was seriously ill, and the hospital felt he was unlikely to survive.  Jim had other ideas though and, after being taken off all medication, he woke up and asked where his breakfast was.  After a week of remarkable high spirits and lucidity, now back in residential care, it was perhaps inevitable that he began to fade and we had to make those difficult calls again as he was readmitted to the hospital in a very poorly condition last Wednesday.  Close friends came to the hospital to provide comfort to him, as even Jim’s resilience couldn’t hold back his own mortality any longer, and the hardest calls to make were on Saturday morning, to let his friends know that this extraordinary man – prolific book collector and binder, passionate supporter at one time or another of (amongst others) the Natural History Society of Northumbria, Society of Antiquaries, Lit. and Phil. and Northumberland Wildlife Trust, amateur geologist and botanist, with a wealth of knowledge in so many other fields – had passed away peacefully, just before midnight on Friday, with both of us at his side.

It was a privilege to have known him, cared for him and to have learnt so much from him in the last few years, and we’ll both miss him greatly.  As we walk the fells of the North Pennines and explore the Cheviot valleys, we know he’ll be there in spirit.

 

Jim Milligan 1930-2013

Rest in Peace


Comments are closed.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Archives

All entries, chronologically...