Edward Hubert (Hugh) Chater
Hugh Chater was a lecturer in botany at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, in the post-Second-World-War years when Mary was studying for her BSc in agriculture and, as such, was one of the people who helped to set Mary’s feet on the naturalist’s path. Chater had been appointed in the 1929-30 academic session and was awarded an MSc by the university in 1932. He retired in the 1969-70 session.
Mary acknowledges Chater’s contribution to her academic career in her 2004 book Memories of Welsh Islands, where she wrote: ‘Hugh Chater, father of botanist Arthur Chater, set my feet on the island road as my botanical advisor on the then rather unusual project I chose for my student thesis in the 1940s.’
There are special days for everyone that can change the whole course of their life … Another was the 21st June 1947, when I fell for Skokholm Island in a big way. As a post-war student in the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, I would soon have to choose a project for my honours thesis. What better place than this? But first I had to persuade the powers that be. Prof [Lily Newton] looked doubtful.
“Oh dear! We don’t know anything about the place – whether it’s suitable. Aber botany students always do their research on Tregaron Bog – a wonderful place' …
I persisted and she relented, sending me off to the island the following year with Hugh Chater, the delightfully cooperative staff ecologist who would be my research advisor. I was saved a lot of squelching around in sodden peat and headed in the direction of becoming an island ecologist.
In her PhD thesis entitled ‘The Vegetation of the South Pembrokeshire Islands in Relation to the Environment’, after thanking Professor Lily Newton for ‘her direction during the early stages of this work’, Mary continues: ‘I would also like to thank Mr E. H. Chater and Mr P. J. Conder (warden of Skokholm Bird Observatory) for their continued interest and helpful criticism and advice....'
Peter Conder - 1919 - 1993
Peter Conder spent seven years as warden of the Skokholm Bird Observatory between 1947-54, during which time Mary spent many summers on the island. Later, in 1962, Peter Conder went on to become the Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).