1997 - 2013
Cameron Bespolka was a lively young birder from Hampshire and joined Next Generation Birders in early 2013, where he quickly became well known for his patching prowess in his home of Winchester, as well as his ongoing quest to find a patch Yellow-browed Warbler.
Tragically, on 17th December 2013 Cameron was killed in an avalanche whilst skiing in Lech am Arlberg in the Austrian Alps. His father and their ski instructor were also buried in the snow, escaping with injuries. This was a truly harrowing event and one which devastated the NGB member base and the wider birding community.
It is therefore with pride that we announce The Cameron Bespolka Memorial Birdrace, a partnership between NGB and Patchwork Challenge, to be held this weekend 28th - 30th November, which marks Cameron's 17th birthday.
Previously, PWC have been very supportive of NGB and dedicated their NGB minileague in Cameron's memory, with the Cameron Bespolka Prize awarded to the winner of the minileague. It is hoped that the minileague will encourage all NGB members to visit their patch more regularly, hopefully resulting in improved ID skills, a more fulfilling birding experience and perhaps even a few nice self finds.
The birdrace is open to both NGB members and PWC participants and will use the score system that PWC have developed for their annual competitions (the score spreadsheet can be downloaded from their blog). The aim is to record as many species on your patch over the three days, whether you spend a couple of hours there one morning or live on patch for the full 72 hours is your choice! There will be two minileagues for the birdrace, one for NGB members and one for PWC participants, and a cumulative total number of species will be kept for each league to see which group comes out on top. More details on how to submit your scores will be posted later in the week. Cameron’s longing to find a Yellow-browed Warbler on his patch became well known within NGB and as such committee member Liam Curson has pledged to donate £100 if an NGB members finds one over the weekend, a very generous offer which several other members have offered to contribute towards, so good luck!
All money raised goes towards the Cameron Bespolka Trust, a charitable initiative set up by Cameron's family to support many different causes that were close to Cameron's heart. It is not compulsory for participants to donate to take part in the birdrace; however it would be greatly appreciated.
Taken from the Trust's website: "The Trust will aim to help teenagers pursue similar interests and passions, especially those who have less privileged backgrounds.