Obituary: Wife of former owner of heritage railway’s Black Prince dies
- Credit: David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF)
The wife of the late David Shepherd, the previous owner of the beloved locomotive The Black Prince, has died.
Avril Shepherd has been described as an “extraordinary family matriarch” and praised for her work behind the scenes, including her support of the famous train now housed in north Norfolk.
Paying tribute to Mrs Shepherd, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), thanked her for enabling her husband to achieve much of his success.
A statement shared on the foundation’s website on April 30 said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Avril Shepherd, wife of the late David Shepherd and extraordinary family matriarch, who enabled much of her husband David’s success as both an artist and conservationist.
“Avril worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure David’s work, clients and foundation were looked after with grace, kindness, and quiet determination.
“Avril was a trustee of DSWF for over 12 years between 2003 and 2015. She was a lifelong friend and guiding light to so many of DSWF’s wonderful conservation partners, friends and supporters.
“Whilst Avril dazzled internationally at prestigious art galleries and events alongside David, she was just as much at home in nature and the wilderness of Africa. She calmly entertained the often wild and wonderful ideas which took her, David, and their family to far-flung corners of the world.
- 1 First coastal road marathon in three decades hailed 'magnificent' success
- 2 Norfolk singer's big hopes for her girl band's debut single
- 3 Man died on 50th birthday at Norfolk coastal campsite
- 4 Mammoth Marathon winner says course was 'one of the hardest'
- 5 Man swims for survival after speedboat sinks off Norfolk coast
- 6 Six beaches in Norfolk awarded Blue Flag status for 2022
- 7 'Everything has gone up' - How mum Melanie is dealing with cost of living
- 8 North Norfolk hotel named among most romantic and best small stays in UK
- 9 Holkham pub closes to drinkers to become hotel and restaurant
- 10 Travel: Stay on the UK's first floating glamping pod...in Beccles
“She was a fierce advocate in her own unwavering way for conservation and for all those who fought for the places and species she loved. Many of us remember her for her warm welcomes and generous hospitality as she supported the work of DSWF.”
The Friends of Black Prince group, which supports the running and maintenance of the British Railway’s standard class 9F number 92203 owned by the North Norfolk Railway, said: “We’re sorry to hear of the death of Avril Shepherd, wife of the late David Shepherd. We send our condolences to the Shepherd family.”
Friend Ian Crowder added: “When locomotive 92203 Black Prince was based at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, David and Avril visited often and I had the privilege of firing the locomotive with them on the footplate on a few occasions.”
As well as being a heritage railway enthusiast, Mr Shepherd was a British artist and one of the world's most outspoken conservationists. Despite an adventurous life together, the couple, of Hascombe and Godalming in Surrey, treasured quiet family time above all else.
Mrs Shepherd leaves behind her four daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who she "inspired to respect and fight for the natural world”.
Born Richard David Shepherd, Mr Shepherd died on September 19, 2017. Mrs Shepherd died in late April 2022.
- To pay tribute to a loved one, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- To read more obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.
Norfolk and The Black Prince
The Black Prince was built for British Railways in 1959.
David Shepherd bought the engine in 1967, after a sell-out art exhibition in New York.
He owned her for just under 50 years, and when the time came the North Norfolk Railway became the new custodians.
Mr Shepherd first brought his beloved Black Prince to Norfolk more than 15 years ago. He loved the railway and the staff and volunteers loved him.
He has previously been described by staff at the NNR as "a great man who will forever be credited as one of this country's greatest pioneers of railway preservation”.
The arrival of the Black Prince was a turning point in the railway's fortunes and with Mr Shepherd’s support and the immense popularity of both him and the engine, visitors came from all over the country to see them.