Tribute to Bob Le Sueur
We are going out with Mr Bob!
written by Shubhobroto Ghosh
Upon reaching Jersey as a precocious young trainee at the International Training Centre(now Durrell Conservation Academy) in 1999, I was looking forward to visiting different places of interest on the island. Thus, it came as a pleasant surprise when the ITC housekeeper, Olwen Bailey, introduced the trainees to a gentleman named Bob Le Sueur, who would take us out during the weekends. On first meeting Bob, he appeared as an affable, fatherly figure who had a deep knowledge about the history and culture of the Channel Islands.
Our first trip was a walk on the sea bed of the English Channel with Bob and his friends. Accompanying me on this trip were my colleagues, Tahir Shawl from India, Kanchana Weerakoon from Sri Lanka and Vladislav Kozyryev from Ukraine. The occasion was memorable, laced as it was with Bob’s commentary that was profound all through. The best part was the tea he hosted after the event at his house where he regaled us with his phenomenal intellect on every conceivable subject including the nature of the British Empire, the relationship between Russia and Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union, the geography of Jersey and Guernsey and of course stories of his travels all over the world, from India to crossing the Sahara in Africa.
Rathin Barman, trainee at Jersey Zoo in 2009 reminisces, “I have nice memories with him. He took me to his house and he was a very nice person at heart. He told me how he traveled to India in a car from London via Afghanistan and Pakistan. From Delhi, he went to Kashmir in a truck!” Another ITC trainee from India of 1993, Brij Kishor Gupta, pays tribute stating, “He was a great human being and naturalist.” I never missed a single outing with him during the time I was in Jersey. He was the guide for trainees during a gathering organized by the Commonwealth Society in St Helier.
It was also a delight discussing literature with him and I recall one such session discussing the “stream of consciousness” style of James Joyce. I recall his admiration for the achievements of Gerald Durrell and his translations of some literature from English to French. We had many exchanges on the nature of the occupation of Jersey by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945. I also recall his humanity which is stated in stone in York Street, “Nazi racists ranked their Russian slave workers as sub human. Any racial prejudices we personally may harbour are first steps on that same vicious slippery slope.” A humanist till the very end, earlier in 2022, he raised funds for the people of Ukraine affected in the ongoing war with Russia. Whenever there was an occasion to travel with him, I would tell the gathering, “We are all going out with Mr Bob!” Go well Bob, I look forward to traveling with you again.
Shubhobroto Ghosh is Wildlife Research Manager at World Animal Protection. He attended the Principles and Practice training course at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in 1999. He is the author of the book, ‘Dreaming In Calcutta and Channel Islands,’ an account of his time spent at Jersey Zoo.