TOAD was sent away to boarding school at the age of 6 as his parents assumed Birmingham was about to be firebombed. He escaped reality by ‘communing’ with nature which he’s done ever since.
His first love was tropical fish: this eventually morphed into an obsession with fancy guppies. He spent 4 years in the RAF wherein he had a year at London University learning Mandarin followed by 2 1/2 years in Hong Kong at the height of the Cold War.
On return to civilian life, he became secretary and journal editor of both the UK’s Guppy Breeding Societies at different times, winning prizes with his fish in places as diverse as Los Angeles and Vienna. He was even at a show in Berlin on the day the border closed and the wall started to go up.
Eventually reptiles and amphibians replaced fish and he found himself applying for the first license to keep Dangerous Wild Animals in Worcestershire, all because of his pet Cayman Alligator.
Before the advent of CITES (Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species) brought about an abrupt halt, he was collecting Lizards and Toads across the World from Trinidad, through Kenya to the Seychelles. 40 years ago he started a club magazine on this topic. It is now a popular scientific journal.
Latterly he has returned to a study of modern Chinese History and gives talks on all aspects of China, having taken several tour parties over there.