Tributes to Warwickshire scout leader and Top Gear cameraman Barrie Foster
TRIBUTES have flooded in to someone whose skills with a camera and love of nature saw him enjoy a life packed with adventure, while always finding time to inspire those around him.
Barrie Foster, 73, died on Christmas Eve, having had chance to read the Herald's special feature published that week on The Joy of Trees - a fundraising book he had produced which combined his skills as a photographer with his love for the great outdoors.
He was born in Bristol in 1948 and then moved to Sheffield before joining the RAF as a photographer at 17 - an easy choice for someone who had been given his first camera by his father at the age of nine and who saw the opportunity to develop his skills and his passion for the outdoor life.
The RAF sent him to art school but he also seized other chances to develop his skills, including learning to ski and being part of the mountain rescue team.
On leaving the service in the late 1970s he got a place on a BBC cameraman training scheme, starting out in the Pebble Mill studios, before going on to become a location cameraman and then freelance from 1993.
This saw him work on many of the much-loved BBC series with a wide variety of location work - notably Top Gear and Countryfile - and Tracks with Ray Mears, which saw two people passionate about the natural world, join forces for adventures all over the globe.
Crucially, the BBC was also where he met wife Colette - they married in 1991 in Cleeve Prior, moving to Temple Grafton in 1998.
Colette shared his love of travel and camping and told the Herald this week, that when they got stuck on Mont Blanc in a whiteout and had to dig a snow hole to survive, that was the shared experience that prompted him to propose.
Barrie's ability to deal with any situation is a big part of why Colette believes he was in such demand, as the ideal cameraman for on-location.
She said: "His background in the RAF meant he kept his cool working in remote situations and was at home in the outdoors, as part of a small team - whether building a camp or cooking, he was in his element."
He also just loved meeting people wherever he went, a generous spirit that touched those he met in remote locations but also closer to home - after he retired he inspired a whole new generation at 1st Shottery Scouts.
The group has compiled a special tribute to him: "Barrie was the ideal Scout leader. As a Scout himself, Barrie joined 1st Shottery with the ambition of passing on his extensive bushcraft skills, his love of the great outdoors and life skills with everyone.
"He not only organised local bushcraft camp adventures, but also a trip to the international Scout Camp, Kanderstag, Switzerland. On these trips he would incorporate some wonderful activities into the programme. One that stands out is getting the scouts to collect stinging nettles from around the site and having removed the leaves from the stalks, they would mix them with flour to create a type of bun and cook them in a frying pan on an open fire.
"Barrie was very inspirational to the Scouts and always expected them to be well turned out and respect the Scout movement. Not only did Barrie receive the Chief Scout 10 Year’s Service Award, he also received a Chief Scouts Personal Award for his courage and bravery and the Chief Scout commendation for Good Service.
"Barrie has certainly left many footprints on the globe as well as in many hearts. He’ll be remembered and missed."
Barrie and Colette have two daughters, Olivia, 28, and Lucie, 26, and the family plan to plant a wood in his memory as part of the Heart of England Forest.