The Board of Directors of Landscape Research Group Ltd is greatly saddened to announce the unexpected death on 7 January 2015 of John Gittins. He was a nice man, much respected and particularly generous in his praise and encouragement to others.
John was a long-serving member of the Board of Directors and thus a charity trustee of Landscape Research Group, first joining the Board in May 2001, having been a member since 1987. He will be remembered by his past and present colleagues for his commitment to the Group’s work, in particular his contributions to Landscape Research Extra, and the wise counsel and calming influence he gave in Board meetings, particularly when matters relating to charity governance needed to be considered.
He went to the same primary school as Bud Young in Albrighton, Shropshire, towards the end of WW2 and recalls this in an LRExtra article about his childhood entitled ‘Same School, Different Journey’. He was strongly committed to landscape and countryside issues, spending much of his childhood on his grandparents’ farm, Tan-y-foel in Montgomeryshire, mid-Wales, and wrote about this in LRExtra 42, emphasizing the notion of hieraeth – Welsh for that intimate knowledge and attachment of a person to his landscape. While there, he learned what it was to be a farmer’s boy, practised many rural skills and enjoyed a wide range of outdoor activities – canoeing, rock-climbing and bird-watching (an interest that grew stronger as he got older). He pursued landscape research in Japan and became involved with the Cheshire Landscape Trust. By training, John was a geographer in the broadest sense with an interest in environmental philosophy. He appeared from correspondence with the Editor of LRE to be widely read. Most of his working life was spent in the voluntary sector. He also spent time in local authority work between 1975 and 1980, with notable landscape practitioner Hal Moggridge and the celebrated landscape architect Brenda Colvin then aged 80. Under discussion at that time was the construction of the Brenig Reservoir in Denbighshire, North Wales. He was involved in some academic work, details of which we may relate later. As well as being actively involved in the Landscape Research Group, John was a trustee of the National Library of Wales.
LRG’s Chair, Paul Tabbush, represented the Group at John’s funeral, as did the editor of this obituary. It was conducted at Pentrebychan, Wrexham, and Paul has formally passed on our condolences to his wife Sue (to whom he was married for over forty years) and to his family, which in a recent email included four grandchildren. Many LRG members thought to register their sadness at his passing.