Remembering Pen Lewington

Remembering Pen Lewington

By Sheila Birkin, Jessica Cater, Valerie Russell and Babs Bartholomew


Pen was an active and passionate member of the WKBG committee for many years. She was a firebrand - she didn't hold back when it came to badgers. She loved them and was devoted to them - both across Kent and those that she fed in her garden. Pen was always by your side if you were arguing the case for badgers. She would not hold back when badgers were at risk for any reason, and she spent hours  and hours keeping records about the badgers in West Kent and reporting road casualties to the relevant local councils. We all hold memories of occasions when Pen went the extra mile - or 3 - to get a good outcome for badgers. A lot of work was done behind the scenes and her death is not only a personal loss for those who knew her well but is a tragic loss for our badger group. She was a good friend to many of us and those who knew her well can vouch for her amazing talent - in her craft work, photography and in her knowledge on music and general culture, not to mention wildlife. (Sheila)

I first met Pen many years ago when Jeff and I took a pair of orphaned collared doves to her bird hospital. Subsequently I bumped into her at a few WKBG events where she would enthusiastically show us all pictures of her garden badgers, but we only became friends at the end of lockdown. I was making face masks to raise funds for Folly Wildlife Rescue and Pen offered me some Liberty print fabric which of course was a great seller and assisted my fundraising efforts tremendously. It was then that I discovered she had had a very successful business making soft toys, which is why she had the fabric. We bonded over Liberty print and badgers, and quickly became firm friends. Pen had so many talents but the most special thing about her was her big, open, generous heart. She gave her energy unstintingly to the causes she was passionate about, foremost being wildlife and badgers in particular. She will be greatly missed by many people, which in itself is a wonderful tribute to a kind and loving person. (Jessica)

She was always there for me supporting passionately our work against the badger cull. I hope in some small way I was there for her. Her last words to me on the Friday before her death were, "onwards and up Valerie". I shall remember these words in what will be a difficult year as we fight for the survival of our badgers, so close to Pen's heart and very being. (Valerie)

Pen was extremely helpful when I was, as a rank amateur, caring for released cubs in our disused sett, & supported with tick removal & homeopathic remedies for common issues on their way to full rewilding. Her experience was totally invaluable. Pen’s empathy, her compassion & her utter passion for wildlife in general and badgers in particular, was inspiring. She attended every committee meeting, Fayre, fete, bazaar, workshop & AGM, as well as contributing to newsletters, workshops, cull leafletting & awareness raising events. Her constancy was rare. (Babs)

Badger Training Workshop at Shoreham School Pavilion

Badger Training Workshop 25th February at Shoreham School Pavilion


Members of the WKBG recently enjoyed an informative afternoon learning about what is involved in rescuing badgers. Our trainer, Jeff Cater, is our most experienced rescuer and provided volunteers with detailed descriptions of what happens when a badger is in trouble and assistance is required.

During the training, Jeff went through the equipment needed for rescues and those participating were given the opportunity to test their newly acquired rescue skills with a toy badger using a grasper and a cage. We are at the start of a very busy period relating to badger rescues, and are pleased that, as a result of this training, we have been able to add a number of names to our list of volunteers in the ‘rescue’ group. We hope to hold another workshop later in the year

Dave Witherspoon

Dave Witherspoon


Our WKBG President, Dave Witherspoon, died suddenly on 7th December. He was 87 and although no longer able to be actively involved in rescues and events any more, he was still an enthusiastic participant in the group. In fact he participated in our Zoom committee meeting on 5th December, providing encouragement and offering that special smile of approval when we discussed some of the current activities within the group. We are all devastated and our thoughts are with his wife of 57 years, Dorothy, and their sons and families.

Dave has been a key member of the WKBG for 30 years and most of us who are actively involved now, not to mention those who were committee members and volunteers in the past, learnt so much from Dave. Many of you will have attended one of his training mornings which were so informative and also good fun. I know Dave prepared in a meticulous way for these sessions as he cared for badgers and wildlife so much that he wanted to ensure that all of us would be properly prepared for any work we took on following the training.

As well as training us, Dave took on numerous work examining planning applications and  - often with Dorothy - he would make site visits and his reports and recommendations were always thorough and well balanced. He built up an excellent rapport with the Met police and with Bromley council and we are now still benefitting from those good working relationships that he built up.

Dave was a thoroughly decent, kind and caring human being. He was incredibly knowledgeable about badgers and their way of life and we are all thankful and grateful to have had the privilege of spending time with him.

We publish below, the words of our committee member, Darren Russell, who runs the Bromley Badgers media page and who has taken on the role of Field Officer in Bromley following Dave's retirement a few years ago:

It's with a heavy heart that I have to announce that last week we lost a true Badger Champion and a great mentor to me personally and to many others.

Dave Witherspoon, Bromley Field Officer for over 25 years and our first ever President, was a dedicated member of the West Kent Badger Group for over 30 years and has left a big hole in our hearts.

For those that knew him really well, he was Dave. Our 'go to' for any Badger Advice, rescues, information and the first person I called 10 years ago when a local sett was attacked.

For other Bromley nature loving folk, he was just known as the Badger Guy. A term he was very fond of.

I'd got to know Dave back in 2010, when he attended a Spring Walk for a local Friends group I was social secretary for. He gave a brilliant talk n walk pointing out Badger setts and explaining how badgers life their lives. It was the sett attack in 2013 that I really began to gain a complete interest in Badgers and I started to really take in what Dave was telling myself and others. He would give numerous talks to all ages, young and old, gained a great connection with Bromley Council, and was an inspiration to loads especially a few of my other Ranger colleagues.

After hanging up his boots back in 2020, I was absolutely delighted when he suggested that I should take his role as Bromley Field Officer and it was an honour to accept. His words are still repeated when I give talks and deliver presentations. Since then he had been our consultant in anyway to the West Kent Field Officers, our planning investigation Officer and finally our first ever President.

All of us at WKBG, Bromley Friend's Groups, LBB Staff, and all local nature lovers send our thoughts to his wife Dorothy and their family 🦡💔

-- Sheila Birkin

Heavy Horse Show

Heavy Horse Show - Sunday 4th September

We are very pleased to be attending the Heavy Horse Show in Shoreham again this year. Please come along to see us at our stand and find out more about our activities.

We have a number of new items to sell, activities for children and WKBG committee members to talk to about all aspects of badger lives and activities.

And yes our friendly badger will be there again this year !

AMG - Saturday 21st May 2.00pm

AGM Saturday 21st May 2.00pm
We are very pleased that our 2022 AGM will be in person on Saturday 21st May 2pm at Hildenborough Village Hall 10 Riding Lane, Hildenborough,TN11 9HY. Our guest speaker is Sgt Darren Walshaw Rural Crime Unit.
There is parking opposite the hall and there is easy access to the main hall.
We hope you can join us and find our what the group has been involved in over the last year and what our plans are for coming one. Everyone welcome free of charge, but donations appreciated.

Jeskyns Walk

Member's event - May 14th 1pm Walk at Jeskyns Community Woodland Henhurst Rd, Gravesend DA12 3AN
Jeskyns is home to 360 acres of newly planted woodlands, meadows and orchards. With a good network of surfaced walking trails, children's play areas, café and even a dog activity trail, there is something for everyone to explore at any time of the year.
The WKBG was contacted during the consultation process leading to the late and much missed Barbara Wilkinson and myself walking the site giving suggestions on how the badgers could be protected. The fact that all three clans are still there is something I am very pleased about as should everyone involved in the project. The walk offers the chance to see how badgers can be protected when a park is established whilst at the same time learning about the woodland and its badgers. Volunteers and a park ranger from Jeskyns will also be attending the walk so it is a great opportunity to educate them about badgers, ensuring that they are even better protected. The park has no major undulations and has good car parking so why not join like minded people for an enjoyable stroll.
If you are interested please contact us - for more information and to give us some idea of numbers. We meet outside the café which is near the carpark.
Details of parking

Debbie Bailey on Badger Vaccination – online event

Thursday 31st  March at 7.30pm  – online event

Debbie Bailey, leading the most successful volunteer-based Vaccination project for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, will be our guest speaker

In 2020 38,642 badgers were killed, the highest number since the current cull began in 2013, taking the total to 140,000. The number of badgers killed in 2021 have not been released yet, but it was extended to 7 new areas with a maximum kill quota stated as 73,930.

Jo Smith, chief executive of Derbyshire Wildlife trust, says; ‘The main cause of bovine TB is from cattle-to-cattle transmission. Badgers are not the main culprit, yet thousands are killed each year. For year The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of vaccinating badger. It is now time for the Government to step up it’s commitment and implement a badger vaccination strategy alongside the development of a vaccination for cattle against the disease’

Join our event and find out what is involved in vaccinating badgers. Email WKBG from this website or to join.