Bellamy’s Shropshire

John Hughes pays tribute to Dr David Bellamy, who sadly passed away 11th December 2019.

I was saddened to learn of the death of naturalist Dr David Bellamy.

He served as President of The Wildlife Trusts from 1995 -2005 and combined the ideal attributes that every nature conservation organisation should have – knowledge, passion, zest for life (of all sorts) fun and an engaging personality.

He had strong Shropshire links too. He visited numerous times – I recall meeting him when he opened, with gusto, Wem Moss nature reserve and then going on to Telford where he posed among wood shavings of the early Green Wood Trust for journalists’ cameras

David Bellamy

David Bellamy, Peter Knight and Veronica Cossons (chairman of SWT) at the opening of Wem Moss nature reserve in 1994

Much of his early career was spent in the county. While studying peatbogs for his PhD he worked extensively on the Shropshire Mosses (including Wem Moss – hence his delight at its opening). His work, along with that of Charles Sinker of the Field Studies Council at Preston Montford, highlighted the international importance of these wetlands. It has led directly to the work we are doing today on the Marches Mosses.

Whixall Moss

The Mosses (c) Stephen Barlow

To me though, the greatest impact was on my own life. In the 1970s, while still at school, I was developing a growing interest in the natural world, particularly botany. Suddenly there was a wild bloke on the telly making programmes – about botany! His shows were predominantly set in my back yard, Britain not far-flung exotic countries. It was stuff I recognised and knew.

Cue Lenny Henry to do Bellamy impressions on TISWAS and David Bellamy was cool – and so was botany.  My career path was set.

John Hughes