18th January 2021
We were devastated to hear this week that long-time CCF member Keith Virgo has died from Covid-19.
Keith had over thirty years’ experience as a consultant in rural development in tropical and sub-tropical countries across Africa, the middle east, Asia, and central America. He started his career in agriculture and soil science, later diversifying into community-based rural development, project evaluation, watershed management and finally into community-based tourism. Although he retired in 2001, he continued to work as the director of Village Ways, an organization working on community-based responsible village tourism focused on India, Nepal and Bhutan. He also acted as Chair and Web Manager for Tropical Agriculture Association and was the CCF representative for them for many years.
Martin Evans said ‘I knew Keith for many years as a colleague in the Tropical Agriculture Association (of which I was a Committee member). His commitment to sustainable rural development and conservation was strong and effective. It is also no exaggeration to say he was respected and loved by hundreds of people around the world with whom he worked and made friends. He will leave a big gap in our professional and personal lives.’
Long-serving CCF member Pamela Abbott, Chief Executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust said ‘Keith was a fabulous source of inspiration and enthusiasm during my time in CCF. He was always so willing to reach across the disciplines to bring in new ideas from his tropical agriculture experience which might have application in other spheres, including those such as regenerative agriculture which anticipated the current trends by at least a decade. Keith was also prepared to give his time to supporting more junior colleagues, championing their ideas, and helping their voices be heard. Our community has lost a much-cherished fellow conservationist.’
Dr Peter Carey, who served as a CCF committee member with Keith, said ‘Keith was especially active on the committee when we (CCF) grew in the 00’s. I always found his jovial nature very refreshing in CCF committee meetings and his inciteful knowledge was so useful. Whilst I was Chair and Deputy Chair of CCF he was a patient tutor to me on matters tropical, about which I know little, and I will never forget that’.
Roger Mitchell, Chair of CCF, said ‘Keith will be very much missed, and I’ll remember him especially for his welcoming smile, cheery conversations and wise contributions to both formal meetings and casual discussions in the David Attenborough Building. Our thoughts, sympathy and condolences to Keith’s family, friends and colleagues for the sad loss we all share’.