Professor Humphrey Kay, 86, who died tragically in Marlborough on Monday, was a leading member of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for more than two decades.

He and his first wife April, who died in 1990, moved to New Mill at Pewsey while he was still working as a cancer specialist at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

It became their permanent home when he retired and devoted his energies to the study and protection of wildlife.

On Monday he was found dead in his car after a minor collision with a telegraph pole in Marlborough.

He had a 20 year history of heart trouble and it’s believed he suffered a heart attack before the car crashed.

He was certified dead at the scene by a local doctor.

Prof Humphrey Kay was born at an aunt’s home in London and very soon he and his mother rejoined his father who was a missionary in India where they spent the next five years.

After prep school and Bryanston public school in Dorset he trained to be a doctor and devoted his career to medicine, specialising in patients with cancer and leukaemia at the Royal Marsden.

His son, James, and one of his two daughters followed in his medical footsteps and became GPs.

In retirement Prof Kay was able to develop his childhood love of the environment and wildlife and after settling at New Mill he joined the Wiltshire Trust for Nature Conservation that later became Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.

He served on the executive committee and as a trustee and chaired the trust’s conservation committee for some years.

More recently he served as volunteer warden of Jones Mill at Pewsey close to his home and later as warden for the WWT’s Hatt Gate reserve on the edge of Savernake Forest.

He served for a while on a government inquiry panel into badgers and TB. Dr Gary Mantle, director of the WWT, said: “He was able to bring some scientific rigour to what was a hotly contested issue.”

Prof Kay leaves his second wife, Sally, a son, two daughters, seven grand children and a recently born great grandchild.