An appreciation by Maureen Spinks
It is with great sadness that we have to report the untimely death on 3rd October of Richard Phillips at the age of 67. Richard died of a heart attack and we are still coming to terms with his sudden death. Our heartfelt condolences are given to Lizzie and to his son, Will.
It is not an overstatement to say that, had it not been for Richard, The Badsey Society may never have been born. It was Richard who set up the Badsey website, www.badsey.net, and it was Richard who suggested a second edition of A Brief History of Badsey and Aldington. It was these two things which led directly to the founding of The Badsey Society in February 2002. In his quiet, unassuming way, Richard made things happen.
Richard was born in south London in December 1947. He graduated in Experimental Psychology from Sussex University in 1969 and went on to gain a PhD at University College London. Richard remained at UCL in the 1970s as a Research Fellow; it was at UCL that he met Lizzie, who was his research assistant. He then moved to The University of Nottingham where he was a Reader in the School of Education.
Richard, newly retired from academia, moved to Badsey in April 2000. He and Lizzie relished living in the centuries-old Manor House, seeing themselves as custodians, looking after the house for the future. I first met Richard two months after he moved to the village when I mounted a historical exhibition at the Badsey School Millennium fete. Richard asked me if I would be prepared to share my work on parish register and census transcriptions for a village website he was planning. With a keen interest in family history and with a background in computers, he had already begun extracting Badsey-related data from the IGI records on the web (remember, back in 2000, this was some years before the birth of the numerous genealogical websites that we see today), so he was pleased to find that work was already in progress.
As with everything he did, Richard worked quickly and efficiently and very soon, www.badsey.net was live for the whole world to see. We were thrilled and excited when we received our first email to the Visitors' Book in July 2000, from a man in Australia who was the descendant an early 19th century Curate of Badsey. Encouraged by this email of support, other people joined the team and more items were added to the village website. A proud moment came in September 2002 when we entered the Worcestershire Community Pride competition and won first prize. The judges described the website as "an innovative project which may well provide a template for other communities hoping to embark on a similar scheme".
In the meantime, on discovering that almost the last copy of the 1983 edition of A Brief History of Badsey and Aldington had been sold, Richard suggested to Terry Sparrow that it would be good if he would consider writing a second edition, saying it might be possible to get a grant. Worcestershire County Council agreed to give £2000, but would only give it to a Society and not to an individual. So that was how The Badsey Society came into existence - the rest, as they say, is history. Seven months after the Society started in February 2002, A Brief History was published, with the design done by Richard. Three further books followed, Richard again as designer. He was responsible for editing Villages in the Vale, A Tapestry of Local History, and wrote a chapter in the book relating to the history of the Manor House. Richard was also heavily involved in the Society's Enclosure Map project and was part of the team that produced the documentary film, The Market Gardener.
As described in The Badsey Society’s April Newsletter, Richard recently undertook a project in conjunction with staff at Worcestershire Archive & Archaeology Service at The Hive. The Hive project aimed to record details of all the Worcestershire buildings shown on the first large scale OS maps from around 1880. For each building, they wanted a photograph of what survives today and a brief written description. Richard was provided with a map of Badsey showing 109 buildings and one for Aldington with 48 buildings. Much of the work had already been done as part of the Society’s photographic survey in 2008, but Richard took on the responsibility of collating the information. The work has been added to the Historic Environment Record and a CD is held in The Badsey Society Archive.
Outside of The Badsey Society, Richard was the author of two books: Perspective in the Age of Digital Photography and Numbers: Facts, Figures & Fiction. Photography was a great passion and he involved himself in composite documentary photography and photography for education. Richard was also a volunteer for OpenStreetMap (OSM), a free, community-generated map of the world. Together with his son, he set up the website, Evesham Mapped, which uses OSM data to create thematic maps of the Vale of Evesham, covering topics as diverse as fast food takeaways, listed buildings, rights of way and commemorative plaques.
A humble and gentle man who did not seek the limelight, but who nevertheless had strong views, Richard was a powerful force in the formative years of the Society and continued to make a valuable contribution over the years. He will be a hard act to follow – we will miss him greatly.