Ernest Hecht's memorial planned for September

Ernest Hecht's memorial planned for September

Souvenir Press has announced a celebration of founder Ernest Hecht's life as well as revealing the last book he commissioned.

Hecht died in hospital in February aged 88 after a short illness, but had remained at the helm of Souvenir Press, conducting business from his West London home, "’till the last". 

Now the independent press, which he founded in 1951, has planned an event on 20th September at the Actor’s Church in Covent Garden, London, in a nod to his parallel career as a theatrical producer.

On the same day, the last book Hecht commissioned will be published, a record of an astonishing year from “the world’s greatest birdwatcher” Noel Strycker. Birding without Borders details the year in which he travelled 41 countries with a backpack, binoculars and a series of one-way tickets, earning him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

At the end of 2014 Strycker “gave up his job and broke up with his girlfriend”, according to a Souvenir Press spokesperson. On 1st January 2015 he was on a Russian ship in Antarctica and at 3am he saw his first bird of the year, a Cape Petrel.

He is a photographer, writer and associate editor of Birding magazine. He has worked as a onboard ornithologist on a cruise ship in Antarctica and is also the author of The Magic and Mystery of Birds, also published by Souvenir Press.

Birding Without Borders is a celebration of birdwatching as a way to discover nature “at a time when significant chunks of society rarely venture outdoors...inspiring readers to explore the world, Noah provides a lesson in living life to the full from a birder’s perspective,” a Souvenir Press spokesperson said.

Hecht had a good eye for a “genuine human interest story on a tricky subject”, according to Liz Thomson who wrote his obituary for The Bookseller.

“He was an astute publisher with a sharp eye and a keen ear for projects that would never have survived the bureaucracy of a P&L,” she wrote.

He was also a producer of plays and concerts, in Britain and in Europe and one of the shows he produced featured the first work of a young Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, according to a Souvenir Press spokesperson.

‘A Celebration of the Life and Achievements of Ernest Hecht OBE in Words, Song and Reminiscences’ will take place the day before his 89th birthday with doors opening at 2pm and the vent starting at 2.30 pm. It will feature music by the publisher’s long-time friend songwriter and composer Barb Jungr and others as well as many reminiscences from people who knew him. Space for the event is limited so those wishing to attend on 20th September should email Luke Williamson at Luke@souvenirpress.co.uk.