On Thursday, 30 July 2020, Gavin Turner, one of our dearest friends slipped and fell to his death at Vogelgat Private Nature Reserve while photographing the Verreaux’s Eagles.

He was accompanied by close friends John and Erna Dry, who were familiar with the area and were experienced mountaineers. On realising that Gavin had fallen, Erna immediately raised the alarm by calling the Vogelgat office, while John climbed down the very dangerous cliffs to look for Gavin and stay with him until the rescue teams could get to them. When they arrived, Erna directed the way to follow down the gorge to find Gavin, but on their arrival, tragically, they found that he had already passed away.

Nineteen years ago Gavin and Cynthia Turner decided to move down from Gauteng to the Western Cape, and after looking around, they decided to settle in Onrus. From the outset, they realised that being Vaalies, they would have to reach out to make friends in their new home. Gavin joined the Whalers Athletic Club and they both joined the Photographic Society and the Hermanus Bird Club, and started a cycling group. They regularly attended the U3A presentations and their love of music saw them attending many music performances.

They have always been very keen travellers, both overseas and through Africa. They have travelled from the Himalayas to Antarctica, from Alaska to New Zealand, and were still planning to cross over Africa, from Morocco to South Africa. When we moved to Onrus many years later, we became neighbours and very close friends, and we started travelling with them all over Southern Africa. Gavin and Cynthia are both excellent photographers and their love for birds have led them to every corner of Africa, where they could get pictures to add to their bird list, which was the reason for the walk in Vogelgat.

When Gavin slipped and fell to his death, he was engaged in doing what he loved most – mountaineering, birding and photography. He was a gentle, kind person who was always prepared to help you, give advice and walk the extra mile with you. He was loved by all who knew him and will be sorely missed.

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