Sutton Bridge’s unforgettable Wild Goose Man

0
Have your say

It is probable that most newcomers to South Holland have never heard the name Kenzie Thorpe.

But Kenzie is a local legend, known variously as the Wild Goose Man, poacher turned gamekeeper, wildlife artist and friend to the great Sir Peter Scott.

Trevor Amos with one of his original Kenzie Thorpe paintings. Photo: SG241013-136TW

Trevor Amos with one of his original Kenzie Thorpe paintings. Photo: SG241013-136TW

His memory is kept alive in Sutton Bridge, where he grew up in Allenby’s Close, or what became Royal Close following Prince Charles’ visit to Kenzie.

Kenzie’s memory is also strong among the many wildfowlers of the area, and one man in particular.

Trevor Amos, of Tydd Gote, says Kenzie took him under his wing after he went as a boy to show his hero his own wildlife sketches.

They were in touch until Kenzie’s death, and from early on Trevor started collecting Kenzie Thorpe memorabilia.

Some of the Kenzie Thorpe memorabilia collected by Trevor Amos. Photo: SG241013-135TW

Some of the Kenzie Thorpe memorabilia collected by Trevor Amos. Photo: SG241013-135TW

It began with a signed copy of the first biography, Kenzie, the Wild Goose Man, and now encompasses the new edition of the book, photographs, original sketches, newspaper articles, a day wildfowling permit for shooting on Holbeach Marsh signed by Kenzie and even an original painting.

Trevor’s son, Nigel, who lives locally, is also a passionate wildfowler and collector of Kenzie Thorpe paintings.

New things are frequently sourced at country shows, where Trevor – as secretary of the Gedney Drove End & District and chairman of the Dawsmere wildfowling groups – takes his memorabilia panels to promote wildfowling.

It was something Trevor became interested in at school when professional wildfowling guide Frank Harrison took some pupils on the marshes.

“He would show us different birds and plants and tell us about the tides,” says Trevor.

“At the age of 13 I had an air rifle at home and then got into guns and started wildfowling from 14 or 15.”

Trevor explains that shooting and conservation go hand in hand, partly because a love of the land and a deep understanding of the birds are necessary to be a successful shot.

In fact, Trevor says this stealth proved useful during the war when wildfowlers proved themselves to be excellent snipers.

But it’s more than that. There is a strict code of conduct for wildfowlers and the data collected, or bag returns, are invaluable to Natural England, which manages The Wash area as a reserve.

Trevor says of the marsh: “It’s one of the only true wild places left and you will never tame that place. There’s seals, wild pink footed geese, wigeon and mallard.

“We don’t go out there and shoot a bag full of ducks. If you get one duck in three trips you have done well because it’s a vast area.

“You have to know what you are doing. There are 20 feet deep gullies that fill with water when the tides comes in.

“You really have to study the marshes.”