Quintessential islander Brendon Grimshaw dies at 87


07-July-2012

Grimshaw purchased Moyenne Island off the north coast of Mahé, Seychelles, in the early 1960s for £8,000 when working as the editor of a newspaper in Africa.

Determined to start life afresh on this island jewel which today forms part of the Ste Anne marine national park just north of the capital Victoria, in 1973, the journalist from Dewsbury, England, moved to his new island with nothing but a dream and has lived there ever since.

The island, which had been abandoned at the time of purchase for half a century, was heavily overgrown but Grimshaw, together with a Seychellois named Rene Lafortune, started his 40-year-long labour of love that would see the island completely transformed.

Over the intervening years, Grimshaw and Lafortune planted 16,000 trees by hand – including 700 mahogany trees that have grown to reach 60-70 feet in height – and also constructed some 4.8 kilometers of nature paths before Lafortune’s demise in 2007.

The nature lover has also attracted about 2,000 new birds to the island which he helped care for. He was also the caretaker of 120 giant tortoises. Grimshaw's island now also holds more than two thirds of all endemic plants to the Seychelles.

Grimshaw, who was offered $50 million for the island a few years ago, refused to sell, saying he did not want the island to become a holiday destination for millionaires, but rather a national park for everyone to enjoy.

Finally, in June 2008, after years of struggle to protect his island from privatisation, Grimshaw's Moyenne Island was declared a national park in Seychelles.

Grimshaw published the story of his connection with Moyenne as a book ‘A Grain of Sand’ in 1996 and has over the years been the subject of many documentaries, the latest being one by Simon Reeves just prior to his death.

Grimshaw was always ready with a story for the many visitors who beat a path to his door: stories of hidden treasure and of the painstaking development of his island home and his tireless conservation efforts. He was the quintessential islander and a devoted lover of nature who poured his love for Moyenne into the island for nearly half a century.

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