Another activist working for wildlife

by David Feather

Some people have rare qualities that make them stand out from the crowd. John Stimpson is one of those people. After retiring he got very interested in helping swifts to recover their numbers. Thirteen years ago he started making nest boxes for swifts in his garage at home. Initially he was making three a day. Now aged 80, he is making about 30 each day.

When he first got interested, no one was making swift boxes, so Stimpson started. “I’m not a carpenter, I’m a salesman, but I thought I’ll certainly give it a go,” he said.

John Stimpson delivering swift boxes and swifts in flight

“I still want to make as many boxes as I can. I don’t like letting people down. My word is my bond,” he says. “I don’t get bored. It’s amazing the number of life problems that have been solved in this garage. Your mind thinks over things,” he says. “I get so much pleasure from wildlife. Building these boxes is one way I can pay it back.” He hopes he will still be making the boxes when he is 99 (the age his mother is), but his pace will probably slow.

Swift in flight and entering a swift box

His boxes have been sent all over the UK, as well as to Sweden, France, Spain and Italy, and his computer is full of pictures of swifts in his boxes from grateful recipients. He has just completed his goal of building 30,000 swift boxes, which could house half of the UK’s breeding population of 60,000 pairs. It is estimated that half the human-made nest boxes in the UK are inhabited, so John Stimpson has probably housed 15,000 pairs of swifts. What a legacy (and an example) he will be leaving – after living to over 90, of course.

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