Keith Hillier nature guide and volunteer manager extraordinaire, RIP

NewImageI was notified by How Choon Beng via What’sApp of the obituary for Percy Keith Hillier.

Keith Hillier was a lovely gentleman, active in managing volunteers in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore Botanic Gardens and he also ran some activities for Nature Society (Singapore). He was also member of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (SBWR) Master Plan Working Group in 2008-2010.

He burst into the scene when he decided to volunteer after he half-retired and was such a warm figure to everyone he met. Ria Tan chronicled Keith in her Wild People series from 2004 – his photo above is from that post, made 11 years ago.

Of working for nature, he said,

“It proved to be a very satisfying job – there was almost always at least one person in each group that I took round, that expressed appreciation for new insights into nature that I had imparted. “

He was a volunteer manager, which are a rare breed and we loved how he did this, sweetly querying guides about their next duty if they’d been away for awhile. How to resist such a charming invitation?

I am thinking of his congenial laughter now. Every time I bumped into him, he’d have warm words for me, we’d have lovely chat and I’d leave feeling uplifted and motivated about nature in Singapore.

We were blessed to have him. He will be truly missed, by all of us.

20151022 KeithHillier

See “RIP Keith Hillier – Mentor to nature volunteers,” by Ria Tan. Wild Shores Singapore, 23 October 2015.

S. K. Ganesan writes,

“I am very sad to hear this. Keith came here from UK to serve his National Service during the Malayan Emergency. He loved the forest and my first trip to Gunung Panti was with him in 1990. He once told me that he was chased by an elephant who was with her calf at Panti! Can’t believe that he has passed on.”

Airani S writes,

“I’ve has the privilege of having Keith Hillier as my wonderful volunteer manager when I was actively volunteering at the SBG. He always knew to make one feel appreciated; through all his gestures. RIP Keith.”

Fam Shun Deng writes,

“Keith Hillier was a mentor of mine, a gentle man who taught me to guide groups of people, and who taught me to teach. Once, after one guiding trip at SBWR, we spent hours talking over lunch about elephants and grasses. His passing is a great loss to all NParks guides. RIP Keith, thanks for the memories.”

Bhavani Prakash writes,

“Very sad to hear the passing on of a very special person. I met Keith Hillier for the first time in September 2003 at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. He inspired me to be a volunteer guide there, which – long story short – changed my life direction completely.

I had lost touch with him for several years. Keith had out of the blue sent me a Facebook invite last year. I was delighted and went to meet him, his wife and his wonderful cats in April this year. I was so glad I finally had the opportunity to thank him for the impact he had made on my life (He had no clue what I was talking about!).

I also thanked him for sending me a Facebook invite, and for remembering me. He said, “I didn’t do anything! Facebook asked me to add you as a friend.” I can’t thank Facebook enough!

RIP Keith. You will be dearly missed. “


Obituary in the The Straits Times, 22 Oct 2015

Percy Keith Hillier (9th September 1929 – 19th October 2015)

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind”

– William Wordsworth”

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