Naturalist Richard Williamson joins Chichester celebration of birds


Flights of Fancy: A Celebration of Birds offers an entertainment probably unique for Chichester.

Organiser Terry Timblick said: “This might be the first time our feathered friends have been given a words and music evening of their own, complete with an inimitable wind section of assorted bird whistling squeaks and pipings courtesy of Richard Williamson.”

The Chichester Observer’s resident naturalist (son of Henry, creator of Tarka the Otter) will be part of the line-up at 7.30pm Friday, May 3 at Christ Church, Old Market Avenue, off South Street, with a retiring collection for Save the Children and church refurbishment.

“Either side of an interval with refreshments will be songs (Rebecca Grove, Stephanie Peat, Mary Quiney), piano solos (Merryl Spong), poems and extracts (readers will include Christine Rowlands, Debbie Mabbitt, Howard Morgan and Paul Devonshire) and humour with famous comedy sketch echoes (there could be a resuscitated dead parrot in there) and other original contributions

“I’ve had a very rewarding time researching the theme from a pile of books.

“Among our sources are Hardy, Tennyson, Frost, Lear, Hughes and some lines bound to be new to everyone.

“Birds have inspired plenty of comic verse, so we’re planning a mix of awe and humour. The whole delving and prioritising process has been a joy, yet extraordinarily far-ranging because of the diversity of the bird world, just in the UK. Locally we are blessed with superb ever-changing bird-watching sites such as the RSPB’s reserves at Pagham and Pulborough and Arundel’s Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and these organisations will be represented in our Flights, together with the very lively Chichester Natural History Society, with programme windows for brief introductions to activities.

“It will be a big help to have this lovely modernised venue’s projection facility. We are aiming to fill the screen with a dazzling procession of honking or trilling fliers.

“A welcome innovation this year is that comedy veteran Brian Baker, a Chichester library assistant with a long association with Edinburgh Festival fringe comedy, its creation and performance, will be directing the evening. Slickness and timing will clearly benefit!

“The musical content will be wide-ranging. Among songs will be some featuring nightingales, and don’t be surprised if a lark is not, just briefly, hovering hereabouts. The Mary Poppins number Feed the Birds is likely, plus a Glaswegian folksong. But, alas, The Byrds can’t make it.”

The event marks Save the Children’s centenary. Contact or 01243 266494.

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