Dilys Pendleton - an Obituary

Always one half of Trevor and Dilys, 'T&D', or the well known partnership behind www.eakringbirds.com, it is deepest regret that I have to announce that my wife Dilys died after a three year illness with lung cancer, in the early hours of August 7th 2019.

Ours was always a partnership of the greatest strength and to those who met her, Dilys will always be remembered as the quieter half of that partnership. The fact that she was indeed less forward than myself, perhaps belied the fact that she performed a major role in many hours field work, the day to day running and maintenance of the website we ran, helping promote Nottinghamshire's invertebrate fauna.

We became a couple on August 1st 2005, started living together within a month and were married on March 23rd 2006. The psychological effects of a bad first marriage had left her extremely thin, with enormously negative opinions of herself and mentally broken when we first met. It took a number of years before she regained her personal strength, confidence and self belief, which had been leached from her by years of mental cruelty.

But with support and great encouragement from myself and more genuine friends than she had previously been accustomed to, Dilys was able to develop her own interests, become more independent and (more importantly) become the person that she should have been all her life. She was far more intelligent than both even she and many others thought and when her interest in invertebrates developed, she excelled and despite the interest often leading to smirks of derision from some, she went on to achieve far more in the field than many who knew her ever realised.


She was a kind, gentle and unassuming woman, a mother of three, grandmother of six and great grandmother of one. Extremely loyal, she continually seemed to be let down by some she needed support from. Learning that she had lung cancer saw her become a much more resilient woman and she showed immense fortitude throughout innumerable tests and successive sessions of debilitating treatment. The treatment eventually weakened her body, but not her resolve or strength of character. Neither did it lessen her sense of humour and we laughed, laughed and then laughed some more, despite her illness. She never gave up during those three years and four methods of treatment, which unfortunately never provided a cure, or even any lengthy respite from the disease. Dilys showed enormous character and strength of determination which many greatly admired.

Along with my own, Dilys's name became synonymous with two species in particular. We rediscovered the bright red Hazel Pot Beetle at Sherwood Forest for the first time in 70 or so years in 2008. Much fieldwork included two unique treetop surveys to help more accurately determine its distribution on site, despite Dilys having a fear of heights, endless time in the field and even more time developing a captive breeding programme for the Hazel Pot Beetle and several similar species. Our work, study and photographic documentation on Cryptocephalus beetles, led to us advising an American Government Department on the rearing techniques we had successfully employed. Dilys was always proud of the fact that she had made such a contribution, but never boasted about it and it will come as yet another surprise to many who knew her. Even less well known, was that she was credited as co-author of a Natural England Commissioned Report on the Hazel Pot Beetle. Few in Nottinghamshire can say the same. She was proud of that too.

Coincidentally, 2008 was the same year Dilys found a beetle larva that really changed her life. It generated an enormous interest within her and also ensured she went to bed late most nights during the following Summers. Glow Worms became a passion for Dilys and to be honest, she was often keener than myself when we were setting out on our nightly 6.5km survey of Sherwood Forest. She loved Sherwood Forest at night and knew the place like the back of her hand after over a thousand survey visits, usually lasting well into the early morning hours. She became used to answering the public's questions on a number of Glow Worm walks we did and her love of children was certainly an asset on a number of daytime minibeast hunts we led.

We spent years studying Glow Worms, kept and studied a few in captivity on a number of occasions and monitored their activity for hours. Between 2012 and 2014, we eventually published the results of our studies in three pdf papers on the website. She loved having webpages to update, publish and maintain, becoming extremely accomplished in her new found role as webmaster, revelling in doing meticulous and often methodical page updates, in the process usually showing considerably more patience than I had. She loved carrying out tasks many would deem repetitive and tedious and she had an artistic trait that few were aware of.

Her ability to take photographs was rarely appreciated and she was extremely adept at finding the smallest of subjects to photograph. Quite often I'd say 'look for this or that, its green and brown with six legs, rare, tiny and feeds on whatever'. She'd often say within a few minutes, 'is this it'? and I'd be dumbfounded, which was something that never used to happen until we met. It was an uncanny ability and she found numerous new species for the county in the years we were most actively carrying out fieldwork within the county. With her first ever swipe of a net, she promptly caught a Pale Pinion, which at the time was a completely new moth for Nottinghamshire. I had to admit to being dumbfounded yet again and several times thereafter! Dilys laughed at the time, I remember it well.

The work we did saw us get invited to talk on local radio. Dilys found it strange that she was suddenly going to places such as the BBC, but she eventually learnt to overcome her shyness and realised that she had the knowledge to answer questions live on BBC Radio Nottingham. Being on radio and having something to say that people wanted to listen to, was a huge personal breakthrough for Dilys ..... and she enjoyed it! Despite her gaining greater confidence and now positively enjoying talking on air, she still would not appear on a piece we were asked to do on Glow Worms for BBC1's 'The ONE Show' and she surprisingly declined to be interviewed on the BBC Radio 4's 'Open Country' with Richard Uridge. Perhaps she wasn't quite ready for stardom just yet?

Like so many people, Richard stayed in contact with us and provided Dilys with messages of support when her cancer was diagnosed in 2016. Although we barely put anything about her cancer on Facebook till the last year or so, much of it was as text accompanying photographs of the garden and a couple of obligatory alcoholic drinks. That's how we spent most of our later days when there was no treatment. Dilys loved pottering about and tending the plants growing in the garden. She liked the garden even better when she was sitting in it underneath an umbrella. She'd recently renewed her interest in knitting, but grew increasingly frustrated at her inability to concentrate for long periods, which suggested that her cancer was spreading. It was also around this time that she became extremely fluent in Anglo Saxon, or at least that's what it sounded like!

She rarely complained about her continued treatment or its affects, but it took its toll and yet she continued to brave her way through it. She could have been very bitter about what life had dealt her, but she bravely carried on, even when she knew all hope had gone. She never wanted to know how long she had left and in the end died suddenly during the early hours of August 7th 2019 at King's Mill Hospital. We were very rarely apart in life and even at the time of her death, some strange act of fate (or sheer coincidence) meant that I happened to be just two floors away at the time of her death. Life's often full of surprises, but we could have done without that one.

The world is undoubtedly a considerably sadder place for her loss, but her name will live on through the work she did and for the contributions she made to our knowledge of Nottinghamshire's invertebrate fauna. Credited on the NBN Atlas with well over 50,000 invertebrate records, Dilys's name will be quoted by researchers for many decades and more. It will always be used and remembered. How many can say the same and how many who thought they knew her did she ultimately prove wrong?


Publications in which Dilys was credited with supplying photographs

SANCTUARY The Ministry of Defence Conservation Magazine, Number 38, 2009

Natural History Museum EVOLVE Magazine. Issue 2, Winter 2010

Käfer im Nationalpark Hainich. ERFORSHEN Band 2. Andreas Weigel & Wolfgang Apfel. 2011

A photographic guide to Insects of the New Forest and surrounding area. Paul D. Brock. Pisces Publications. 2011

Field Guide to the Micro Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. Phil Sterling and Mark Parsons. Illustrated by Richard Lewington. British Wildlife Publishing 2012

Insectes. OPIE Office pour les insectes et leur environment. ISSN 0994-3544 Parution Septembre 2013

RSPB. The Nature Tracker's Handbook. Nick Baker. Bloomsbury. 2013

A comprehensive guide to INSECTS of Britain & Ireland. Paul D. Brock. Pisces Publications. 2014

Longhorn Beetles of Serbia field guide. Dragan Pavićević, Nastas Ilić, Milan Ðurić. Belgrade University Institute of Zoology 2015.

Britain's Spiders - A field guide. Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith. Published by Wildguides Ltd 2017

A photographic guide to INSECTS of southern Europe & the Mediteranean. Paul D. Brock. Pisces Publications. 2017

die-blattkafer-baden-wurttembergs. Joachim Rheinheimer & Michael Hassler. Verlag Kleinsteuber Books 2018


co authored publications

BINDING, A.E., BINDING, A., PENDLETON, T., PENDLETON, D. & CLIFTON, S.J. 2011. The status of the Hazel Pot Beetle Cryptocephalus coryli at Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve. Natural England Commissioned Reports, Number 066.