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40 : Harry Riches: An Appreciation AN APPRECIATION

Harry Riches (1924–2013)


r Harry Riches, prominent in the world of

beekeeping from the 1970s, died on Friday, 31 May at home in north Devon, with his family around him. He was 88 years of age and had been in apparent good health until recently.

He enjoyed helping on the small farm at Beaworthy run by his daughter, Penny. Harry retired there from Hertfordshire some seven years ago, bringing with him four hives of bees which he continued to manage. He became a much-loved member of the Devon Beekeepers’ Association, Holsworthy Branch.

Medical Career

Harry Riches graduated MB, BS (Lond), MRCS (Eng), LRCP (Lond) from Guy’s Hospital Medical School, in 1948. After junior hospital

appointments, he fulfilled his national service obligation by serving two years in the Royal Navy as a Surgeon Lieutenant. Returning to a hospital career, he subsequently proceeded to higher medical qualifications of MRCP (Lond), MD (Lond) and FRCP (Lond).

For 28 years he was Senior Consultant Physician to Harefield Hospital, renowned for its pioneering heart surgery, and also to Mount Vernon Hospital, Northwood.

Lifelong Interest Away from his busy

professional life, Harry had a lifelong interest in beekeeping which was acquired from his grandfather in Norfolk during childhood. In 1970, Harry developed an allergy to bee venom when a single sting caused him to collapse while beekeeping. There was consternation and amusement from his two children who did not understand why a doctor should require the services of a doctor. He could obtain no sound medical advice on desensitisation so that he could

continue his beekeeping. ‘Give it up’ was not the answer he wished to hear, so he decided to study the subject and treat himself. Through this study of bee venom hypersensitivity, on which he wrote and lectured widely, his work has been acknowledged internationally.

Beekeeping Appointments

A member of the Hertfordshire Beekeepers’ Association through its West Herts Division, he became Chairman and President of this association. In 1981 he was elected to the Executive Committee of the British

David Charles

Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) where his abilities, judgement and leadership qualities were quickly recognised. Harry served on several BBKA committees, was Chairman of the Publicity, Publications and Public Relations Committee and acted as Press Relations Officer. At this time the BBKA promoted itself as ‘An Association of Honey Producers’. Harry felt that emphasis should be placed on the environmental value of bees as pollinators. He quickly rose to be Executive Chairman and, from 1987, he served two years as President.

Bee Craft Connections

There was also a close connection with this magazine. At the end of his BBKA presidency in 1989, Harry joined the board of directors of Bee Craft Ltd. During his time with the company there was a great advance in printing and production technology and Harry was keen that Bee Craft should embrace this. Typesetting was brought ‘in house’ in 1997. Harry was also a keen advocate of the change from A5 to A4 size which was introduced in 2002. His contribution to the debate with fellow directors encouraged a unanimous vote in agreement of this. Harry served as President of Bee Craft Ltd for ten years until his retirement in 2006.

Other Organisations Other organisations too,

August 2013 Vol 95 No 8

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