Eunice Phipps – Tributes from the Society

Last week I was told that sadly, after a lengthy illness, Eunice Phipps had passed away. I was never fortunate enough to meet her, but I know that she was a very popular member of our club, and a very well respected local naturalist. Her funeral will be held at Earlham Cemetery on Thursday 29th March at 12.45pm. These are tributes from two of her close friends in the club:-
Alan Hughes

I don’t expect there are many who have not heard the sad news of the passing of Eunice Phipps. If you were lucky enough to be acquainted with Eunice you would know her to be warm, funny and generous with her knowledge of all things nature which she had in abundance, especially anything to do with birds, butterflies and moths (they had to be Macro moths – “I don’t do micro moths” she would often say) She could also be quite feisty if anything or anybody annoyed her. In earlier times she had been an Army nurse and Manager of a care home. She suffered with a bad back and feared she would end up in a wheelchair. I first met her in 1996 at Titchwell. She was an active member of the NWT Norwich Group and she and two other members – John Morris and Jan Grint – went out birding every Tuesday whatever the weather. It was shortly after I had retired and I was keen to improve my birding knowledge. Eunice invited me to join them on their weekly Tuesday ventures and we went anywhere and everywhere in Norfolk and Suffolk – Titchwell, Strumpshaw, Minsmere etc. etc. I vividly remember our trip to Benacre on 2 November 1999 to see the juvenile White-tailed Eagle and tramping over Cromer Golf Course to get the Woodchat Shrike on 24 May 2005. So many trips and too many to list them all here. Throughout these trips Eunice would very often spot a butterfly or moth and generously share her knowledge of the particular insect, what specific details to look for, and how to recognise it next time. It was infectious. I still use and cherish the butterfly book she gave me as well as the thirteen pages of moth data sheets she compiled in intricate detail. Everything she did or researched was at 110%. She had accumulated a huge book library which you will know about as many of these books were put up for sale at the WVBS. Something not so well known is the trip around Britain she undertook with friends Angela Woodrow,Margaret Austin and Sue Peck to find and record all the British butterflies. It was, of course, a successful trip. It was great to renew our friendship at the WVBS Meetings more recently but very sad to witness her going gradually downhill with the dreaded Dementia.

Rest in Peace, Eunice. It was a privilege to know you and call you my friend.

David Knight

It is with a heavy heart that I learnt that our longstanding club member Eunice Phipps passed away on Tuesday 6 March from the cruelty of dementia. I first met Eunice through the Wymondham Branch of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust around 2005. We quickly struck up a close friendship which lasted the rest of her life. I was a beginner to birding and she soon took me under her wing and, being the generous lady she was, imparted her knowledge and enthusiasm for which I am truly grateful. She also introduced me to mothing. We would set up 1 or 2 moth traps either in her or my garden and spend many an evening chatting and laughing waiting until the draw of the light brought the moths in. It amazed me how quickly she identified them. We also used to go butterflying together and I sometimes accompanied her on transect surveys and would travel further afield so I could get a few new ones under my belt. Then there were dragonflies. She had tremendous knowledge in all these subjects.

Eunice introduced me to the WVBS, we would car share to get to the Club’s indoor and outdoor meetings. We also went together on many of our club holidays and we would be guaranteed a hilarious holiday with her company. She was a member of numerous wildlife organisations and took an active role on several committees and leading walks. I will remember her for her vibrant love of life, her quick witted wicked sense of humour, her generosity, loyalty and kindness and, as she was born in India, a lot of curry. Eunice was also responsible for match making Glenn and I and also Lin and Phil. We always joked she had a lot to answer for! Dementia is such a wicked cruel illness and it saddened me to watch a woman of such knowledge gradually forget all that she had taken a lifetime to learn. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to thank her the week before she passed for being a truly good friend and acknowledge her contribution to nature.

It would be a fitting tribute to her if as many of her friends could attend her funeral on Thursday 29 March at Earlham Crematorium at 12.45 pm, it would make her family very proud.

Lucy Topsom

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