John Martin, ex Chairman of Devon FWAG in the early 1990's and one of the founders of the Kingfisher Awards Scheme, sadly passed away on 29th April, after a short illness. John farmed between Witheridge and Tiverton in Devon.

During a Sunday lunch organised by Bill and Sue Tucker, John and his wife Feather along with Ted and Carol Hughes were guests, the conversation turned to the disconnect between young people and the countryside. Ted suggested they do something to support FWAG and John in his new role as Chairman of Devon FWAG, it was agreed that the emphasis needed to be on school children.

Thus Kingfisher Award Scheme (KAS) was born and still adheres very much to its original idea of small groups of children visiting farms to explore, by being as hands-on as possible, how wildlife co-exists with the farmer. It had to be fun while they were learning! Back in the classroom, the children would prepare a project to explain what they’d seen and experienced. The projects from all participating schools would be submitted for a trophy, a hand carved kingfisher, that would be judged at a summer tea party.

John played a vital part of those early Kingfisher years, his contact with farmers, through his FWAG involvement, encouraging them to host school visits. John took a great interest and was tremendously active in the development of Kingfisher, as he was in his role within FWAG.

John joined the 25 year anniversary celebrations for KAS in 2018, he was pleased to see how the Scheme had developed and expanded, and is still a part of FWAG SW educational arm. All without losing its original intention of enthusing children about country life; enabling them to discover for themselves the connection between food, farming and wildlife.

Nearly 30 years on the Kingfisher Award Scheme is flourishing in Devon and has expanded into Cornwall, Somerset and Wiltshire, only missing two years, one due to Foot and Mouth and this year due to Covid 19.

Our thoughts are with Johns family at this time.

From left to right: Bill Tucker, Carol Hughes and John Martin. Founders of KAS.