In Memory of Kenneth Henry West, Founder of the Wildwood Trust
It is with great sadness we announce the death of one of Kent’s greatest conservationists and leading figures and our Founder Kenneth Henry West. Ken passed away after a battle with cancer last week. Wildwood staff will join hundreds of mourners to celebrate his life this weekend and in keeping with his legacy he will have a ‘green burial’ on land he has bought and turned into a nature reserve.
Born in Barnehurst in 1934 Ken grew up from modest origins in Kent but after leaving school Ken embarked on a global adventure as a Royal Marine Commando and then a decorated senior Police Officer and Public Prosecutor in Africa. Receiving the Queens Police Medal (QPM) one of the highest decorations given to our police force.
On retiring from Public Service Ken went on to found a number of highly successful businesses across Africa. After a stella career which included confidential work with ex-members of the SAS & CIA, being Managing Director of a number of other security business Ken gave up the jet setting life to return to his roots to setup a new start-up venture back in The UK.
As a true entrepreneur, Ken saw the need for a new company at the forefront of Computer Data Security so set up CitiData Storage Ltd in 1985, and provided innovative and valuable services in the explosion of activity in the High Tech banking industry in the wake of City of London’s ‘Bing Bang’.
But on retirement Ken was just getting into his stride and a whole new world of adventure began. With zeal Ken put his efforts into his two great passions saving wildlife and public service. Founding and supporting a number of charities and returning to the law as a Justice of the Peace.
In 1997 Ken Founded the Kent Mammal Group as Chairman and then President, with the aim to raise awareness of the plight of the County's mammals, promote recording and study of mammals in Kent. Ken also became a Trustee for the Mammal Society the National Charity. Amongst his Honours He was awarded the Mammal Society’s award for “Services to Mammalogy” in 2012
As a trustee at Kent Wildlife Trust Ken helped secure a number of nature reserves and was hugely successful in soliciting large donations and setting up some ground-breaking conservation projects.
At Kent Wildlife Trust Ken was instrumental in the Beaver project which led to the formation of the Wildwood Trust in 2002 to continue to develop the animal park between Herne Bay and Canterbury. As with all the ventures Ken put his energies into it became hugely successful attracting over a Million visitors in his time with the Trust, developing innovative conservation experiences, training courses and conservation projects.
The culmination of his work was to take over the Escot Estate in Devon as the Wildwood Trust’s second conservation park and a dream to build more and actively engage in rewilding projects to save British wildlife.
Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust's Chief Executive and one of Ken’s many close friends said:
"Ken & I shared a dream and a unique friendship. Like so many others he lifted me up to be such a better person that I would have otherwise. This mentorship allowed us to create the Wildwood Trust to inspire people to save wildlife. Ken's legacy will continue in all the people that benefited from his life and all at Wildwood will strive to live up to his example"
“Ken gave so much to others and was an inspiration to hundreds of conservationists across the UK, but the pinnacle of his achievements was to foster so much achievement in others. Ken was a born leader in business, law and in charities, he inspired hundreds of people in his life to achieve more for the common good and to save our threatened wildlife. “
“By example Ken did so much to found charities, make them grow, buy nature reserves, raise funds and train others in conservation skills. No obstacle was too great, no challenge could not be overcome and by having faith in others he not only gave them the ability to protect wildlife but the faith and inner strength to do that, and to continue in the face of huge challenges that face threatened wildlife”
John McAllistar from Kent Wildlife Trust said:
"Ken played a major role in conserving Kent's wildlife as a Trustee and chairman of Conservation Committee. He will be dearly missed by all those who knew him. Fortunately he has left a lasting legacy in the establishment of the Wilderness Down Living Landscape Project on the mid-Kent Downs"
Ken is survived by his Wife Jean west who was a constant throughout his life, his Sons Alastair and Richard and daughter Lindsay. He also had 11 grandchildren.
In a statement the family said,
“Ken was a good father and role model, worked tirelessly on projects he cared about. The family have been overwhelmed by the volume of kind words received from well wishers at this time. He will be sorely missed”
Ken asked for others who were inspired by his life to make a gift to Wildwood Trust in his memory to continue his life’s work to protect wildlife and create a place for nature for all of our future generations. https://mydonate.bt.com/events/kenwest/401754
Notes to Editors
For further information on Ken or Further details please contact Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood Trust
Ken West showing Cheryl Baker how to look for Dormice on BBC1 Documentary. 2 photos
This BBC programme featured Ken & you can see him in action, but more than his wonderful on screen presence and amazing animal skills was that Ken was behind all the conservation stories in the film and trained and supported all the people featured. He was a leading light in the Beaver and Dormice project and was a founder or leader of all the three charities involved, The Wildwood Trust, Kent Wildlife Trust & The Kent Mammal Group. Take a moment and watch this film & share in the wonderful achievements of this great man