Who’s Who: Nature lover Ron Vester’s crusade to protect Hampstead Heath swans – just don’t call him the ‘swan man’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 March 2013 | UPDATED: 19:43 18 March 2013

Ron Vester at the model boating pond in Highgate.

Ron Vester at the model boating pond in Highgate.


Ron Vester moved to Belsize Park from Jamaica eight years ago and has been patrolling Hampstead Heath ever since. The nature lover and photographer, from Aspern Grove, often helps the local swan sanctuary to rescue injured or stranded swans from the Heath’s ponds.

What is your favourite thing about the area?

Hampstead Heath of course. I spend several hours a day on it, it’s become a habit of mine to walk around the ponds to check the swans. It was such a contrast to the life I had before as a photographer in Jamaica and I started to learn about them (the swans) and now everyone knows me as the guy who looks after the swans. But I don’t want to be called the “swan man”.

If you were mayor for the day what would you change?

I would tell everyone not to smoke, the place is infested with smokers. The trail they leave behind them is just revolting for a non-smoker. It’s my pet hate, but I know everyone will go ‘Boo!’.

Tell us a little known secret about the area you live in?

Hampstead Green by St Stephen’s Church in Rosslyn Hill is a lovely little spot for butterflies and nature. It’s a small open space, full of daffodils and snow drops and I always take a look at it before going home.

If you had £100 to blow, how would you spend it?

I would go for a meal at Dar’s Tandoor & Grill in Constantine Road, South End Green, because it’s the best food I have found in a while, mouthwatering, and then I’d go for a drink at the White Horse just up the road. I don’t think I could spend the rest of the money, so I’d give the rest to the Shepperton Swan Sanctuary.

Where in the world would you twin with Hampstead Heath?

Turtle Park in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, because I used to hang out in that little park too.

How would you spend your perfect Sunday?

The entire day would be on Hampstead Heath, walking on about eight different ponds checking on the swans. That would be my perfect day.

If you had to write your own epitaph, what would it say?

Ron Vester, lover of nature. Friend to the swans.

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