It is with great sadness I report the passing of Brigadier William (Bill) Deller OBE, former chairman and President of Ely & District Wildfowler’s Association.
Born in Duxford in 1928 Bill’s objective although having a love of farming, was military service and having been identified as officer material, Cadet William Charles Deller commissioned from Sand Hurst to join the 1st Suffolk in 1946 and later the same year, joined them in Palestine.
Bill also served in Greece, Korea and then Malaya where he was made Temporary Captain. Bill commanded A Company 1st Suffolk upon their return to England and again when they moved to Trieste in 1953. When the Battalion went to Germany he was promoted to Adjutant, also seeing service in Radfan and Aden , before returning to take command of the East Anglian Brigade Depot at RAF Bassingbourn.
Bill received an O.B.E in 1971 After amalgamation he continued with the 1st Royal Anglian with spells in Staff positions with the Ministry of Defence. Seven years later Bill was promoted to Colonel and later, the Defence Attaché to the British Embassy in Washington. Two years on he became the British Defence Advisor to Pakistan.
I first met Bill when I joined Ely & District Wildfowler’s around 1986. Bill was chairman and a driving force in making the club what it is today. Bill took the position following the resignation of the club’s former chairman who resigned from BASC over the lead shot debate.
Bill’s skills and excellent working relationship with others lead to the clubs management of 50 acres of wetland belonging to the RSPB on the Ouse Washes. The RSPB Reserve Manager Cliff Carson allowed the club to manage the land, stamping out poaching which was prevalent in the area.
Bill was soon showing his negotiation skills again. A piece of land came on the market at Welney, Norfolk. EDWA had insufficient funds to purchase the property but Bill, arranged an Extra Special Meeting, doubled the fee’s and membership enabling the purchase, along with the help of the then Secretary of the BASC Wildlife Habitat Trust – Tony Laws. Initially Bill thought we couldn’t afford it but, Tony had a plan, by funding half the price through WHT enabled EDWA to secure a loan to purchase the other half and rent the WHT‘s half from them.
Several years later, Bill having succeeded in building the clubs reserves, made a second purchase on the Cam Washes which was named Deller’s wash in recognition to the excellent work Bill performed on behalf of the club.
Bill’s other interests lay in his brothers farm in Triplow where Bill ran the shoot and managed the ground to restore English Partridges, the numbers of which had been decimated after the 2nd world war. Bill’s ideal was once numbers had recovered sufficiently, they’d have a couple of drives per season – which I was reliable informed, never materialised!
In April this year at EDWA’s AGM Bill gave the club his old AYA Number 3 Wildfowling Gun for the members to draw for, in order to boost club funds. That evening I was able to ask him what were his goals as EDWA Chairman?
He said: I have lived a privileged life. I’ve fished for trout and salmon, shot in different parts of the world, enjoyed walked up grouse and driven partridge. Not every man can afford to do that. So I believe a working man should be able to go shooting and if he cannot afford these things, he should be able to afford to go wildfowling and I always kept this in mind when I was chairman.
Brigadier William Charles Deller OBE 21st December 1927 – 27th June 2016. Our thoughts go out to his family at this time.
Derek J Robinson
EDWA Press & PR Officer