Local Face: Lawrie Webb

It was love at first sight when an outing from the Reading Bluecoat School took young Lawrance Webb to Reading Museum for a school project. At the end of the day Lawrie was missing from the line-up of boys to march back to the school. He was found gazing with fascination at the Observation Hive and the irresistible charm of bees has never left him. “All things come to him who waits” and so it was for Lawrie.

After 10 years service in H M Forces he joined the Army Kinema Corporation. When Vicky and Lawrie married in 1953, they sailed on SS Kenya for East Africa where he took up an appointment with AKC. They returned to Buckinghamshire in 1963, with one small adopted son, soon to be joined by an adopted daughter – and a change of employment. He joined a well known national company and began a “rat-race” life style travelling around Britain with little time for the family and none for hobbies. A company shake-up brought a more sedentary job.

By the early ’70’s Lawrie was suffering serious ill health, necessitating yet another change in lifestyle. The Webb family came to the simple garden orientated life in Wendover several years before “The Goode Life” was invented on T.V.

Lawrie had previously joined the Slough and District Beekeepers Association, and on moving, joined the Mid Bucks Beekeepers Association of which he is currently President. In the late ’60’s he was a founder member of the Chalfonts Beekeepers Society.

In 1981, a vacancy for the part-time voluntary post of Slide Librarian to the British Beekeepers Association occurred. The Association were desperate and Lawrie offered six months. He found a miscellany of 3,500 slides, which he immediately set about organising into sets with lecture notes to accompany them.

The next thing was to create a catalogue – and circulate it to every Beekeeping Society in the UK. The slide sets were available for hire from the library and became an invaluable service in beekeeping training and education. The catalogue was updated annually as the library grew to include 137 separate titles (the more popular up to 5 copies per title) and totalled 8,500 slides. Lawrie retired from this post in 1991, and, in recognition of this invaluable contribution to the organisation he was made an Hon. Life member of the British Beekeepers Association.

Over the years Lawrie has served as Bucks County Spray Liaison Officer on the 3 Counties Min. of Ag. Spray Committee. (12 years) Local Swarm Control Officer for Mid Bucks (8 years) -liaising with the Local Authorities on Swarm collection. In 1983 he was Chairman of the Centenary Committee of Bucks County Beekeepers Association. In recognition of these services Lawrie has been awarded Vice President of Bucks County and Mid Bucks Beekeepers Associations and Hon Life Member of Chalfonts Beekeepers Society and High Wycombe Beekeepers Association.

Few lay people can differentiate between wasps and honeybees, bumble bees and solitary bees. Wasps are useful carnivores feeding on aphids, flies, caterpillars and carrion and should not be treated as pests. (They sting to anaesthetise their prey). Honeybees, bumbles and solitary bees pollinate our crops and need to be protected. Lawrie is delighted to give talks on bee/wasp related topics.

It is not surprising that Lawrie is an Organic gardener and has been a member of the Henry Doubleday Research Association since 1963. He is a founder member of the Chilterns Organics Group, Vice Chairman since 1993. During the winter months they meet monthly in the Bowls Club Wendover and the Headington Community Centre, Oxford. The programme of events is available in Wendover Library.

Lawrie could never have achieved such a varied lifestyle had it not been for the active support of Vicky,who still works, part-time, 3 mornings a week and “phut-phuts” around Wendover on her moped. What a woman!