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A pioneer of natural goodness

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Eric Simms, who has died aged 87, was a pioneer of natural history. He made the first recordings of badgers, and recorded for the first time an exchange between an adult female bird and its chick inside its unbroken eggshell. For 40 years he was one of the most familiar voices on the BBC at home and abroad, making more than 7,000 BBC radio broadcasts and appearing on television 700 times.

He produced programmes for The Countryside and the BBC Schools TV service. Wanting to "speak freely on matters of conservation", he went freelance.

He was awarded a DFC for his services during World War II. When his aircraft was hit with incendiary bombs and the mid-upper gunner received a direct hit in the head, "Simms had to extricate him from his wrecked turret as the aircraft dived down to a few thousand feet to enable the man to breathe without oxygen. The aircraft then limped back to RAF Wickenby".

He wrote 20 books about birds and an autobiography - works of "charm, intelligence and hope". He built a wayside nature reserve on the A1 that is now filled with flowers, birds, mammals and butterflies. He and his wife, who married in 1943, adopted two children.

Ave atque vale.

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