Obituary: Major Reginald Allan Chenevix Trench 1.9.20 – 25.1.18
Although greatly saddened by the news that Major Reg Trench passed away peacefully on 25 January, this is surpassed by the gratitude and honour I feel at having known him for many years. Reg was, quite simply, a remarkable man.
Despite reaching the age of 97, Reg never seemed to grow old, at least not while out watching his beloved butterflies. Even after deciding that he should no longer attend our guided walks, for fear of slowing the party down (although he could still hop over stiles and gates as he approached 90), we spent plenty more happy days together watching some of his favourite species, including Duke of Burgundy, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Purple Emperor. While pursuing these he became as enthusiastic and animated as an excited schoolboy.
In recent years, despite occasional periods of poorer health, he was back out on the Downs whenever possible, sometimes disobeying orders and heading off on long route marches. I’ll never forget the afternoon spent watching Adonis Blues on the steep slopes of Steyning Rifle Range; as he called my name I turned to see Reg, immaculately dressed as always, in the valley below; “what have you got up there?” He was beside me in a shot, over rabbit holes and through thick scrub, but this would have been no problem for a man who led his platoon of Royal Engineers across Sword Beach on D-Day in 1944.
Reg’s joie de vivre was infectious and he lived his life the way life should be led. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve told people that “I want to be like Reg when I reach his age”. He will always be an inspiration to me, as I’m certain he will be to a great many others.
Reg was a member of Butterfly Conservation Sussex Branch from the start and he kindly gave me his early issues, dating back to February 1984. From his hand-written notes it is clear that he enjoyed watching the Duke of Burgundy at Kithurst Hill, near his Amberley home, for at least 35 years; he was delighted when the species reappeared there in 1994, after a period of absence. I would receive a ‘phone call in the spring of most years; “how is the Duke of Burgundy Fritillary doing?”, but our chats would always last much longer than a discussion of this species alone.
I would like to extend my deepest sympathies, and those of all at Butterfly Conservation, to his wife, Sophie, who accompanied him on many butterfly outings, his children, Ivo, Angus, Kate and Jessica, and to all of his extended family.
The funeral will take place at St Michael’s, Amberley, at midday on Thursday 8 February. Donations will be made to Butterfly Conservation. Enquiries: H D Tribe, Storrington 01903 742585
Reg and Sophie on a 2009 outing to see Purple Emperor
My father (centre) with Reg and Sophie watching Pearl-bordered Fritillary in 2013