Tributes paid to ‘birdman of Stevenage’

Frank Henning with a barn owl

Frank Henning with a barn owl - Credit: Archant

TRIBUTES have been paid to a man known for his life-long passion for birds.

Frank Henning featured in the Comet

Frank Henning featured in the Comet - Credit: Archant

Frank Henning, who was known to many as ‘the birdman of Stevenage,’ died at his home in Oakfields, Stevenage, on April 15 aged 78, with family and friends gathering in the town on Wednesday to pay their respects at his funeral.

Frank Henning caring for a duck in his home

Frank Henning caring for a duck in his home - Credit: Archant

Mr Henning was no stranger to the Comet, having appeared in the newspaper during the 1970s and ’80s when he was caring for an injured seagull and two fox cubs.

“I believe the name ‘the birdman of Stevenage’ came from the Comet about 30 or 40 years ago and has stuck,” said Mr Henning’s son Gary, who said that his father’s death was unexpected despite a deterioration in his health in recent years.

“He dedicated his life to saving and caring for many birds, but other animals like foxes and stoats as well. He had lived in Stevenage for 55 years but his passion came from where he grew up as a child. Where he lived in Hampton Court there were large open spaces and wooded areas which he loved.

“He never turned any animal away, he wasn’t discriminatory at all. Some of the local vets and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds would often ask for his help.

“He made me an animal lover and taught me a lot about animals, although I haven’t got the same passion that he had.”

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Doris Thurlow, who set up an animal rescue centre at her home in Shephall Green in Stevenage, had known Mr Henning – a former chairman of the Stevenage Zoological Wildlife and Preservation Society – for as long as she can remember.

“He was a bit like me and if somebody came to his door with an animal he couldn’t say no,” she said.

“Nothing was too much trouble when it came to an animal and there wasn’t much he didn’t know about birds.”

Mr Henning is survived by his sons Gary, Luke and Kirk, and five grandchildren.

Donations in Mr Henning’s memory can be made to either the RSPB or Cancer Research UK via Powell Funeral Service on 01438 728403.