CHILDREN in primary schools up and down the Wharfe Valley are learning more about nature thanks to an initiative by Ilkley woman Debbie Davitt.

Earlier in the year Debbie read in a national newspaper about a campaign in other parts of the country to put a copy of a book called ‘The Lost Words’ into primary schools and decided to do the same for her local schools.

The book was written by naturalist Robert McFarlane in response to many words associated with the natural world being lost from the language of children – words we tend to take for granted such as ‘bluebell’, ‘acorn’ and ‘kingfisher’. The book brings the words and their subject back to life with charming ‘spells’ and many beautiful illustrations by Jackie Morris.

The Wharfedale Naturalists Society generously agreed to fund the project and pay for the books and Debbie has been hard at work over the last few weeks visiting schools. So far, she has handed out over more than 20 copies. The John Muir Trust has produced a free ‘explorer’s guide to The Lost Words’ which gives lots of ideas how to use the book to learn more about language and nature.

Pupils from Ghyll Royd School in Burley-in-Wharfedale received their copy from Debbie personally and have been enjoying passing it around the different year groups. Form 5 pupil Heidi Johnson said: “The book is really cool and the pictures are really detailed.”

Headteacher David Martin said: “We are so grateful to the Wharfedale Naturalists Society and to Debbie for generously donating this wonderful book to our school library. It is a beautiful read that fits in perfectly with our school’s love of the outdoors.”

Debbie added: “I am really delighted to be able to support children and schools in learning about nature. The beauty and variety of the natural world brings such pleasure to me and I hope to encourage others to look and listen to the wildlife around them and learn to value it too for the joy it can bring.”

If your primary school would like a copy of ‘The Lost Words’, contact Debbie Davitt by emailing