Peter Scott

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Peter Scott in 1954
Statue of Sir Peter Scott at the Wetlands Wildfowl Trust: London Wetland Centre.
Peter Scott
Medal record
Men's Sailing
Bronze 1936 Berlin Monotype class

Sir Peter Markham Scott CH CBE DSC and Bar FRS (London, 14 September 1909 – Bristol, 29 August 1989) was a British ornithologist, conservationist, painter, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve officer and sportsman.

Scott was knighted in 1973 for his contribution to the conservation of wild animals. He had been a founder of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a founder of several wetlands bird sactuaries in Britain, and an influence on international conservation.[1] He received the WWF Gold Medal, and the J. Paul Getty Prize for his work.

Early life[change | change source]

Scott was born in London, the only child of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott (Scott of the Antarctic) and sculptor Kathleen Bruce. He was two years old when his father died. Robert Scott, in a last letter to his wife, advised her to "make the boy interested in natural history if you can; it is better than games".[2]

He was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, at first taking Natural Sciences but graduating in the History of Art in 1931. After graduating, he studied art in Germany and London.

He had his first exhibition in London in 1933, and sold his first paintings. In 1935 he published Morning Flight, illustrated by himself. As a young man, Scott was not wealthy, and the income from his paintings was the basis of his life. The paintings themselves sold well, but most of the income came from books and reproductions. The reproductions, which were printed by Ankermann of Bond Street, are still selling well. From this 'income stream' Scott was able to keep a family, and buy some of the land he wanted for wildfowl refuges.[3]

In the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, he represented Great Britain at sailing, winning a bronze medal in the smallest class of boat, the O-Jolle or dinghy.

World War II[change | change source]

As war approached, in 1939, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. In 1940 he was a in a Destroyer as a Lieutenant. After joining Coastal Forces he rose to Lieutenant-Commander and commanded a flotilla of Motor Gun Boats in the Channel.[4] He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with bar and an MBE (Military Division). In 1944 he was a Staff Officer and in March 1945 he was appointed Captain of the brand new Frigate HMS 'Cardigan Bay'.

After the war[change | change source]

In 1948, he founded the organisation with which he was ever afterwards closely associated, the Severn Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) with its headquarters at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

In the years that followed, he became a television personality, popularising the study of wildfowl and wetlands. His BBC natural history series, Look, ran from 1955 to 1981 and made him a household name. From 1973 to 1983, Scott was Chancellor of the University of Birmingham.

He was the founder President of the Society of Wildlife Artists and President of the Nature in Art Trust,[5] (a role in which Philippa succeeded him).[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. Courtney, Julia 1989. Sir Peter Scott: champion for the environment and founder of the World Wildlife Fund. Stevens, Milwaukee.
  2. Scott's Last Expedition, Smith, Elder & Co., London, 1913 OCLC 15522514
  3. Scott, Peter 1961. The eye of the wind. Hodder & Stoughton, London. ISBN 0-340-04052-1, ISBN 0-340-21515-1
  4. Scott, Peter 1945. The battle of the narrow seas: a history of the Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea, 1939–1945. Country Life, London.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Nature in Art Trust". Nature in Art Trust. http://nature-in-art.org.uk/trust.html. Retrieved 23 March 2010.