Back to news

Keith Howland


Keith (right) with Tony Williams our colleague from La Brenne, during the EuCAN placement in Aggtelek in eastern Hungary in March 2010

We were very sad to hear of our friend and colleague Keith’s passing last July, yet another person whose life was cut short by the cancer epidemic and whose life we were not able to celebrate because of the covid restrictions limiting funerals.

Keith started teaching in Blandford Upper School in 1973, the same year as I started in the lower tier of the system. He taught Rural Science, a subject now long gone (and perhaps forgotten), before moving to work in a variety of roles at County Hall in Dorchester. He had a lovely calm, rather reserved and very genuine manner, something to do with his northern roots!

He became involved in the workparties at Alners Gorse after Butterfly Conservation acquired the site in 2005 and enjoyed helping with the woodland work with his chainsaw, particularly as part of the woodland skills courses which were targeted at young people referred through the local mental health agencies. He took part in the EuCAN visit to the Aggtelek National Park in northern Hungary in March 2010, a visit that was highly memorable for the amount of snow we experienced and consequently for the amount of time spent animal tracking! He was always good company and was very supportive of the participants with mental health issues.

Keith was diagnosed with cancer of the bileduct in early 2018 and went through several phases of very unpleasant chemotherapy, describing the treatment in February 2019 as the worst experience he had ever endured. He had resigned from the Butterfly Conservation Dorset committee and all his butterfly transect commitments in April 2018, but continued to fight his disease with huge courage, supported by his wife Ann and his children Claire and Peter and their families. They bought a caravan in 2019 which they were able to use for visits to Devon and elsewhere which were very important to them at this time.

Nigel Spring