South Hams Nature Diary | A tribute to naturalist Sally Hosking

About two years ago, the well-known local naturalist, farmer and camera-man, Roger Hosking died. Now his fellow naturalist and his support and inspiration through their long marriage, Sally Hosking, has died. She was a wonderful person with a wonderful smile.

Her knowledge and love of flowers, and of all natural history, began during her Cornish childhood, continued through her teachers’ training college. It blossomed during the years she taught at several schools across England. Her last position was at Modbury School, where she taught for nearly twenty years, eventually becoming deputy headteacher. The children loved her and so did the staff.

We, her fellow teachers, have been remembering Sally. Karen Woods ( nee Karen Rickard ) and Sally were always close friends because they were both Cornish. Karen remembers Sally’s knowledge of every wild flower and her kindness and sense of fun. One morning, when I was taking morning assembly and droning on about some plant, Karen was horrified to hear me say, “Miss Rickard, please could you go and pick some for us? It is growing outside the Memorial Hall.” Sally immediately read Karen’s panic-struck thoughts, smiled at her and said, “Shall we do it together, Miss Rickard?” A few minutes later they reappeared with a bunch of winter heliotrope flowers and broad grins on their faces.

Sally enjoyed teaching every subject and she would weave natural history into then all. Alison Wynne-Powell regularly joined Sally on her art and craft afternoons. She said they were always great fun; she was so impressed with the way the children responded to Sally’s calm, gentle nature. She said Sally never raised her voice. One day she especially remembers is when Sally organised a wonderful outing to Westcombe beach; rock-pooling, caving, picnicking on the sand and sharing her knowledge and love of nature with the children. Alison hopes those children, now adults, still remember that day and the fun they had.

There were often wild creatures that shared Sally, Roger and Rebecca’s house with them. Val Loader much admired Sally’s calmness in the face of adversity and remembers when Sally arrived at school having successfully recaptured Andrew Cooper’s brood of harvest mice, which had escaped and gone scampering all over Sally’s kitchen floor.

Sally often showed her feelings with flowers. David Bate was so touched when Sally came to him in the sad, quiet days after his mother’s funeral, with a bunch of beautiful flowers. When Rebecca had been invited to a party with Nicola and Naomi Booth, Sally arrived with a bunch of snowdrops for Diana. Although that was over forty years ago, Diana remembers it so clearly. Over the years she loved visiting Sally’s garden and being shown the latest flowers to come into bloom. Sally told her how she loved going on winter walks with Rebecca, looking for the first primroses.

Rebecca loved walking along the hedgerows with her mother. She also treasures memories of harvesting, “Mum would heave a couple of hundred bales in a day, yet however tired she was she would rescue any stranded creature – a frog, a beautiful yellow underwing moth, a bank vole – all were saved from being squished.”

My favourite memory is of when Sally brought in a bunch of stinging nettles to her classroom, in a glass tank. The children soon spotted why Mrs.Hosking had found them interesting. There were dozens of small caterpillars nibbling at the leaves. Sally asked them if they would like to look after the caterpillars. The children discovered that the caterpillars had hatched from eggs laid by a small tortoiseshell butterfly. They kept the nettles watered, saw the lid was carefully replaced to stop the caterpillars escaping all over the classroom floor and put in fresh nettles, when required. Quickly, they grew. One day, several had spun chrysalises, hanging like golden baubles on a Christmas tree. Each morning the children would rush in to see what the caterpillars had been doing, until one morning there was a butterfly, resting by its empty chrysalis. Over the next few days, the children were able to watch, with Sally, as the butterflies, one by one, crawled out from their chrysalises and spread their wings, bursting with rainbow colours. Then Sally would take the children outside to the school garden and see the final miracle, as the butterflies took flight. I can see Sally, as if it were yesterday, surrounded by loving, excited children, with butterflies in her hair and a beautiful smile on her face.

Hundreds of children will have memories of Mrs. Hosking, like these. Sally was so caring and determined to do her best for all the children, especially for those who had difficulties or seemed to approach their learning in a different way. Her smile gave them confidence.

Devon hedgerow spring - Rebecca Hosking

Devon hedgerow spring – Rebecca Hosking (Devon hedgerow spring – Rebecca Hosking)

Sally Hosking by the sea

Sally Hosking by the sea (Sally Hosking by the sea – Rebecca Hosking)

Sally Hosking in her garden - Rebecca Hosking

Sally Hosking in her garden – Rebecca Hosking (Sally Hosking in her garden – Rebecca Hosking )

Small Tortoiseshell - Aglais urticae  - Geoff Foale

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) laying on its eggs on a stinging nettle – Geoff Foale (Small Tortoiseshell – Aglais urticae – Geoff Foale)

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top