Dr. Michael Thompson died on 27th July 2011. While he had lived in Slingsby a comparatively short time, he was known to many people and contributed much to Slingsby life. Michael’s name was legendary in Slingsby before he arrived, having been the wildlife advisor for Peter Smithson’s first wildlife film for the BBC: ‘Bats need Friends’. He had completed an MPhil at York University on the Pipistrelle bat, and through later wildlife projects became a respected expert on bats in general.
Michael was born in Haifa in Israel in 1933 where his father worked as a surgeon. This was where he spent the early part of his life, and began his lifelong interest in wildlife. Later, back in the south of England and as a member of the Quaker movement and a conscientious objector he was sent to work at the Retreat in York as an alternative to National Service. He remained in York after qualifying as a doctor, joining a GP practice in the Bootham area.
After retirement, he and his wife Pat moved to Slingsby in1997, where they both made significant contributions to village life. In addition to his interests in wildlife, Michael served on the Parish Council and the Village Hall committee where he worked to improve access for all, which included the new wheelchair access. Although his health was deteriorating in the last couple of years, he determinedly attended Parish Council meetings to give his thoughtful contributions to such projects as the Parish Plan. He enjoyed serving on the Rye Internal Drainage Board as wildlife advisor, and he was also an active member of the Quaker meeting in Malton.
Most people will have read his regular nature notes in the monthy parish newsletters. His sightings of many a rare bird lurking in the trees and hedgerows of Slingsby showed there is still plenty to find out there for those with sharp eyes, and patience!
Michael will be much missed, but he does leave a lasting legacy in the form of the Millenium history of the village of Slingsby, South Holm and Fryton. He applied for grant aid and organised, contributed to and edited contributions to an updated account of Slingsby’s history to mark the year 2000. The book also included list of wildlife and flora which were compared with earlier records. This stands as a valuable record for future generations. Slingsby has much to remember him for.