Nigel Tucker (1930-2021)
Nigel Tucker ‘s early life in Devon
Nigel Tucker lived his early life in the village of Bolham, on the river Exe near Tiverton. He spent much of his childhood playing in and around the river, and in the surrounding fields and meadows. He was fascinated by the creatures that lived there. Nigel’s mother fostered this interest when Nigel found a dead bat at his primary school. He brought it home, skinned it, stuffed it with cotton wool and mounted it on a board.
Nigel’s Higher School Certificate grades dashed his aspirations to study Zoology at university. Following his National Service Nigel pursued a very successful career in Physical Education. He became the Head of PE at St Luke’s College in Exeter.
Beetles in cow pats
The zoologist in him was not to be defeated. Around the time of his National Service Nigel developed a great interest in beetles. Fuelled by his inquisitive nature and an ability to digest and remember text books in almost photographic detail, his knowledge of and interest in beetles grew rapidly.
With the arrival of his children in the 1960s his collecting slowed a little. But he was always keen to share his passion and fascination for the subject with family (and anyone else who showed an interest).
His patience, attention to detail and a love of order meant that over the following years he built up a sizeable collection of beetles and other insects. All are beautifully mounted and catalogued. Such was his fascination with the subject, that for one of his assignments as a student at St Luke’s he produced a paper detailing how the insect (and particularly the beetle) population within pats of cow dung varied according to the age of the pat. No doubt this amused his fellow PE students!
Nigel’s passion and ability for learning and his zest for life were phenomenal. His interests (and expertise) ranged across zoology, military aviation, palaeontology, archaeology, aero modelling, antique maps, stamps and coins. He also rose to the top of his field in Physical Education, finding time to become a published author and illustrator of PE text books. He also taught guitar, watercolour painting and ballroom dancing. Amazingly, Nigel managed to balance all this with a great family life, devoted to his wife Jane, who passed away in 2017 after 62 years of happy marriage.
Retirement and RAMM
By the time Nigel retired to Woodbury in the 1980s he had amassed a considerable beetle collection. He also collected fossils, coins, stamps, antique maps and books. Nigel donated most of his beetle collection to RAMM. He spent many mornings, over a period of years, volunteering at the museum. He re-organised the museum’s beetle collection whilst incorporating his own specimens into it.
On his death in 2021 Nigel’s family donated the remainder of his beetle collection to RAMM. Many he collected around his home and garden in Woodbury. RAMM also has some of his notebooks and collecting equipment.
Woodbury History Society
Nigel was one of Woodbury History Society’s founding members. In 1996 he found a passion for metal detecting and documented his vast collection of finds meticulously. He generously donated his entire collection of finds and fossils to the History Society for safe keeping. The collection is available online.