Old boy’s diary sold to raise funds for reserve

2008-01-15 00:00

When Michaelhouse decided to raise funds to set up and fence an oribi reserve on the school’s property, Iain Guthrie, the head of the school’s biology department and an old boy, felt he was unable to make a substantial cash donation, but came up with another idea. He would offer the fundraisers a very special book.

When he was at the school, in his post-matric Sixth Form year in 1986, he kept an immaculate “Free Bounds” diary, to be given to his parents at the end of the year as a thank you to them for having allowed him to spend the extra year at the school. During that year, he went on various trips, to the coast, to Zululand, to Botswana and to Zimbabwe, and on all of them, as well as when he was on the school grounds, he noted down a description of where he had been and what he had seen, identifying plants, birds, fish and animals, and listing them at the end of the account of each trip.

“Free Bounds” refers to what happened at Michaelhouse on Sundays, when all the boys were expected to leave the immediate school grounds and head out into the surrounding countryside — to hike, build huts or just settle down under a tree and read. As an 18 year old, Guthrie made good use of his Sundays, showing a considerable knowledge of natural history, an observant eye, and skill as a watercolour artist, illustrating his diary with meticulously accurate paintings of birds, animals and plants. (When he went to university, he almost went on to study art rather than biology.) His life at Michaelhouse was a privileged one, but he appreciated it to the full.

When the fundraising drive for the oribi reserve started, Guthrie went to Tony Ardington, who was heading the fundraising team, and asked if he would like to use the book in some way. Ardington went to author and artist Elsa Pooley — who had already seen Guthrie’s work 21 years ago when she was asked to comment on his plant illustrations — and they agreed it should be published and sold to raise money. And so an elegant hardcover edition of 3 000 copies has been created, with all the proceeds going to the reserve.

There are already 13 oribi on 233 hectares of mistbelt grassland, along with a herd of Nguni cattle, being used to manage the veld, and it is a facility Guthrie uses when teaching biology. And now, the book he gave to his parents as a thank you gift will have a wider application, being used to help in the creation of a reserve in the midlands scenery that means so much to him.

• Free Bounds by Iain Guthrie is available at Exclusive Books and at Michaelhouse. There will be a book launch at Exclusive Books at the Midlands Mall on Tuesday, January 22 at 6 pm for 6.30 pm. All are welcome to attend. For more information, phone 082 337 8861.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.