Brenda Gilling, Wildlife advocate

Brenda Gilling (centre) at the opening of the Lance Gilling Building at Askham Bryan college
Brenda Gilling (centre) at the opening of the Lance Gilling Building at Askham Bryan college
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BRENDA GILLING, who has died at 92, was responsible in no small measure for the transformation of many of Yorkshire’s 1,300 churchyards into sanctuaries for wildlife.

Her work with Elizabeth Hardcastle for the Yorkshire Living Churchyards project, which ran for 25 years until 2013, led to land management arrangements for the plots, and her knowledge of the natural world and how to care for it was invaluable in the process.

She held strong opinions on the damaged caused by some modern agricultural practices, particularly the use of herbicides and pesticides, and during her years at Askham Bryan College, where her late husband, Lance Gilling, was the longest-serving principal, she advocated a more environmentally friendly approach to farming.

Mr Gilling was a former chairman and president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and Brenda returned to the college in February this year for the official opening of the Lance Gilling Building for agriculture and land based engineering.

She and Lance had met at Reading University, where she studied agricultural chemistry following war service with the Women’s Royal Navy, and they spent 53 years together.

Born in Manchester, Mrs Gilling maintained her interests in botany and ornithology until the end of her life, which was latterly spent at Brandsby and Easingwold in North Yorkshire.

She is survived her daughters Hilary and Jennifer, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.