Tributes to Bury conservationist who worked ‘tirelessly for the good of the town’

Doreen Tilley pictured in 2010 around the time she decided to put her wellies away for good after 20 years of conservation volunteering
Doreen Tilley pictured in 2010 around the time she decided to put her wellies away for good after 20 years of conservation volunteering
0
Have your say

Tributes have been paid to a dedicated Bury St Edmunds conservationist who worked ‘tirelessly for the good of the town’.

Doreen Tilley, who died aged 96, nurtured Saxon Gate Nature Reserve as part of the River Linnet Butts Project, fought to protect the water meadows and even had a pond named after her.

Doreen Tilley behind the counter at her tobacconist and confectioners in Whiting Street in 1950.

Doreen Tilley behind the counter at her tobacconist and confectioners in Whiting Street in 1950.

She also ran a tobacconist and confectioners with her husband Geoffrey in Whiting Street.

“She was a lovely person and worked tirelessly for the good of the town,” said Simon Harding, who was involved in the Water Meadows Defence Campaign.

Mrs Tilley played a leading role in the campaign to stop Greene King from building an access road, off Cullum Road, through part of the water meadows.

Although the road was eventually built, her efforts led to Greene King creating an environmental scheme in 2002 which included a pathway through one of the meadows, fencing and planting wildflowers.

“She had considerable charm, powers of persuasion and did a lot for the town in a very quiet way,” said David Rees, former chairman of the Bury Society and neighbour.

Mr Rees, who also served with her on the Greene King water meadows management committee, said he would often see her walking up the street with a bucket, rake and a spade for her conservation work.

In 2010, around the time she decided to hang up her wellies for good after 20 years’ voluntary work, Mrs Tilley told the Bury Free Press that she became involved after noticing the rubbish-strewn state of the River Linnet in 1990.

She said: “I got a few friends together, we put our wellies on and waded in there and got the rubbish out.

“I appealed for volunteers and the River Linnet Butts Project began.”

She was involved in the dredging of three ponds at Saxon Gate Nature Reserve and one of them was named the Tilley Pond. Through her efforts, she created a sustainable environment for water voles and great crested newts.

Mrs Tilley was named Suffolk Woman of the Year in 2001 in recognition of her work.

She was born in Ely and was married to Geoffrey for 49 years.

Their tobacconist and confectioners was at 74 Whiting Street. After a few years they bought No. 75 to make it into one home. The front room of No. 74 was turned into a stock room and later a craft shop.

Mrs Tilley was a potter and her husband did a bit of wood turning and later made silver jewellery and cut gemstones.

Her daughter Vivien Dockerty, of Far North Queensland, Australia, said her mother was ‘creative and hardworking’.

She also leaves three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her other daughter.