We were sorry to hear that Dena Burne died on 25th January 2017, aged 87.
The daughter of a (Wesleyan) Methodist Minister, Dena won the Pfeiffer Scholarship to Bedford College, University of London, where she studied Zoology (1947-1950). Bedford College was in Regent’s Park and she was frequently woken by the roar of the lions in London Zoo! She then went to Cambridge to take a Certificate of Education. Dena taught science for 3 years in Sheffield before moving to Sierra Leone to teach (1955-1965). She loved it there and often spoke of the wonderful birds. Her son, Jonathan, wrote, “Mum had a lifelong love of Creation which inspired her creativity. She loved the beauty of sweeping landscapes and as a result we also loved the beauty found in mountains, valleys, lakes, islands, sunsets, etc. Mum especially loved everything living. When it came to plants and botany, Mum knew the Latin names of everything.” This passion for Creation translated into a concern for the environment long before it became a popular issue.
Dena was one of the very first JRI Associates. She was very committed to our work and wrote a set of Bible Studies for us in our early years. She also co-wrote the Living World module for Christian Rural and Environmental Studies (CRES) with John McKeown, one of the compulsory modules for the course that is still much in use. For a number of years Dena served on the CRES Steering Group as Admissions Officer. Dena was, in many ways, one of the unsung heroes of JRI. She worked very hard and really cared for God’s creation. JRI staff members, John and Lynda McKeown, recall that Dena (along with her husband John) made them very welcome when they first moved to the Cheltenham area and invited them round for a meal. They say she was always on the look out for people, interested in them, very welcoming, caring and hospitable.
A thanksgiving service for Dena’s life was held at St Matthews, Cheltenham on Monday, 13th February 2017, where she and her late husband, John, were both Lay Readers. We give thanks for Dena, and for the example that she set us all in the care of God’s creation.
Dr Martin Hodson
JRI Operations Director
(With grateful thanks to Dena’s two sons, Jonathan and Simon, for filling in many of the gaps in Dena’s life)