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David Bellamy

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David James Bellamy

(1933-01-18)18 January 1933
London, England
Died 11 December 2019(2019-12-11) (aged 86)
County Durham, England
Education Sutton County Grammar School
Alma mater Chelsea College of Science and Technology (BSc, 1957)
Bedford College, London (PhD, 1960)
Occupation botanist, television presenter, author, environmental campaigner
Employer Durham University
Rosemary Froy
(m. 1959; died 2018)
Children 5

David James Bellamy OBE (18 January 1933 – 11 December 2019) was an English botanist, television presenter, author and environmental campaigner.

Early and personal life

Bellamy was born in London to parents Winifred May (née Green) and Thomas Bellamy on 18 January 1933. He was raised in a Baptist family and retained a strong Christian faith throughout his life. As a child, he had hoped to be a ballet dancer, but he concluded that his rather large physique regrettably precluded him from pursuing the training.

Bellamy went to school in south London, attending Chatsworth Road Primary School in Cheam, Cheam Road Junior School, and Sutton County Grammar School, where he initially showed an aptitude for English literature and history; he then found his vocation because of an inspirational science teacher, studying zoology, botany, physics, and chemistry in the sixth form. He gained an honours degree in botany at Chelsea College of Science and Technology (now part of King's College London) in 1957 and a doctor of philosophy at Bedford College in 1960.

Bellamy was influenced by Gene Stratton-Porter's 1909 novel A Girl of the Limberlost and Disney's 1940 film Fantasia.

Bellamy married Rosemary Froy in 1959, and the couple remained together until her death in 2018. They had five children: Henrietta (died 2017), Eoghain, Brighid, Rufus, and Hannah. Bellamy lived with Rosemary in the Pennines, in County Durham.

Scientific career

Bellamy's first work in a scientific environment was as a laboratory assistant at Ewell Technical College before he studied for his Bachelor of Science at Chelsea. In 1960 he became a lecturer in the botany department of Durham University. The work that brought him to public prominence was his environmental consultancy on the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967, about which he wrote a paper in the leading scientific journal, Nature.

Publishing career and related

Bellamy published many scientific papers and books between 1966 and 1986 (see #Bibliography). Many books were associated with the TV series on which he worked. During the 1980s, he replaced Big Chief I-Spy as the figurehead of the I-Spy range of children's books, to whom completed books were sent to get a reward. In 1980, he released a single written by Mike Croft with musical arrangement by Dave Grosse to coincide with the release of the I-Spy title I Spy Dinosaurs (about dinosaur fossils) entitled "Brontosaurus Will You Wait For Me?" (backed with "Oh Stegosaurus"). He performed it on Blue Peter wearing an orange jump suit. It reached number 88 in the charts.

Promotional and conservation work

In the early 1970s, Bellamy helped to establish Durham Wildlife Trust, and remained a key player in the conservation movement in the Durham area for a number of decades.

The New Zealand Tourism Department, a government agency, became involved with the Coast to Coast adventure race in 1988 as they recognised the potential for event tourism. They organised and funded foreign journalists to come and cover the event. One of those was Bellamy, who did not just report from the event, but decided to compete. While in the country, Bellamy worked on a documentary series Moa's Ark that was released by Television New Zealand in 1990, and he was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.

Bellamy was the originator, along with David Shreeve and the Conservation Foundation (which he also founded), of the Ford European Conservation Awards.

In 2002, he was a keynote speaker on conservation issues at the Asia Pacific Ecotourism Conference.

In 2015, David Bellamy and his wife Rosemary visited Malaysia to explore its wildlife.

In 2016, he opened the Hedleyhope Fell Boardwalk, which is the main feature of Durham Wildlife Trust's Hedleyhope Fell reserve in County Durham. The project includes a 60-metre path from Tow Law to the Hedleyhope Fell reserve, and 150 metres of boardwalk made from recycled plastic bottles.

Broadcasting career

After Bellamy’s TV appearances concerning the Torrey Canyon disaster, his exuberant and demonstrative presentation of science topics featured on programmes such as Don't Ask Me along with other scientific personalities such as Magnus Pyke, Miriam Stoppard, and Rob Buckman. He wrote, appeared in, or presented hundreds of television programmes on botany, ecology, environmentalism, and other issues. His television series included Bellamy on Botany, Bellamy's Britain, Bellamy's Europe and Bellamy's Backyard Safari. He was regularly parodied by impersonators such as Lenny Henry on Tiswas with a "gwapple me gwapenuts" catchphrase. His distinctive voice was used in advertising.


In 1983, Bellamy was imprisoned for blockading the Australian Franklin River in a protest against a proposed dam. On 18 August 1984, he leapt from the pier at St Abbs Harbour into the North Sea; in the process, he officially opened Britain's first Voluntary Marine Reserve, the St. Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve. In the late 1980s, he fronted a campaign in Jersey, Channel Islands, to save Queens Valley, the site of the lead character's cottage in Bergerac, from being turned into a reservoir because of the presence of a rare type of snail, but was unable to stop it.

In 1997, he stood unsuccessfully at Huntingdon against the incumbent Prime Minister John Major for the Referendum Party. Bellamy credited this campaign with the decline in his career as a popular celebrity and television personality. In a 2002 interview, he said it was ill-advised.

He was a prominent campaigner against the construction of wind farms in undeveloped areas, despite appearing very enthusiastic about wind power in the educational video Power from the Wind produced by Britain's Central Electricity Generating Board.

David Bellamy was the president of the British Institute of Cleaning Science, and was a strong supporter of its plan to educate young people to care for and protect the environment. The David Bellamy Awards Programme is a competition designed to encourage schools to be aware of, and act positively towards, environmental cleanliness. Bellamy was also a patron of the British Homeopathic Association, and the UK plastic recycling charity Recoup from 1998.

Views on global warming

Bellamy's later statements on global warming indicate that he subsequently changed his views. A letter he published on 16 April 2005 in New Scientist asserted that a large proportion (555 of 625) of the glaciers being observed by the World Glacier Monitoring Service were advancing, not retreating. George Monbiot of The Guardian tracked down Bellamy's original source for this information and found that it was from discredited data originally published by Fred Singer, who claimed to have obtained these figures from a 1989 article in the journal Science; however, Monbiot proved that this article had never existed. Bellamy subsequently accepted that his figures on glaciers were wrong, and announced in a letter to The Sunday Times in 2005 that he had "decided to draw back from the debate on global warming", although Bellamy jointly authored a paper with Jack Barrett in the refereed Civil Engineering journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, entitled "Climate stability: an inconvenient proof" in May 2007.

In 2008 Bellamy signed the Manhattan Declaration, calling for the immediate halt to any tax-funded attempts to counteract climate change. He maintained a view that man-made climate change is "poppycock", insisting that climate change is part of a natural cycle.

His opinions changed the way some organisations viewed Bellamy. The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts stated in 2005, "We are not happy with his line on climate change", and Bellamy, who had been president of the Wildlife Trusts since 1995, was succeeded by Aubrey Manning in November 2005. Bellamy asserted that his views on global warming resulted in the rejection of programme ideas by the BBC.


Bellamy also held these positions:

  • Patron of Recoup (Recycling of Used Plastics), the national charity for plastics recycling
  • Professor of Adult and Continuing Education, University of Durham
  • Hon. Prof. Central Queensland University, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Systems
  • Special Professor of Botany, (Geography), University of Nottingham
  • Patron of the British Chelonia Group, For tortoise, terrapin and turtle care and conservation

President of:

  • The Wildlife Trusts partnership (1995-2005)
  • Wildlife Watch (1988-2005)
  • The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country
  • Durham Wildlife Trust
  • FOSUMS - Friends Of Sunderland Museums
  • The Conservation Foundation, UK
  • Population Concern
  • Plantlife
  • Coral Cay Conservation
  • National Association for Environmental Education
  • British Naturalists' Association
  • Galapagos Conservation Trust
  • British Institute of Cleaning Science
  • Hampstead Heath Anglers Society
  • The Camping and Caravanning club
  • The Young People's Trust for the Environment.

Vice president of:

  • The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)
  • Fauna and Flora International
  • Marine Conservation Society
  • Australian Marine Conservation Society
  • Nature in Art Trust

Trustee, patron or honorary member of:

  • Patron of National Gamekeepers' Organisation
  • Living Landscape Trust
  • World Land Trust (1992–2002)
  • Patron of Southport Flower Show
  • Patron, The Space Theatre, Dundee
  • Hon Fellow Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management
  • Chairman of the international committee for the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.
  • Patron of Butterfly World Project, St. Albans, UK
  • BSES Expeditions
  • Patron, Project AWARE Foundation
  • Patron of Tree Appeal
  • Patron of RECOrd (Local Biological Records Centre for Cheshire)
  • Patron of Ted Ellis Trust

Honours and awards

Bellamy was awarded an Honorary Dr. of Science, degree from Bournemouth University. He was the recipient of a number of other awards:

  • The Dutch Order of the Golden Ark
  • the U.N.E.P. Global 500 Award
  • The Duke of Edinburgh's Prize (1969)
  • BAFTA, Richard Dimbleby Award
  • BSAC Diver of The Year Award
  • BSAC Colin McLeod Award, 2001

In 2013, Professor Chris Baines gave the inaugural David Bellamy Lecture at Buckingham Palace to honour Bellamy's 80th birthday. A second David Bellamy Lecture was given by Pete Wilkinson at the Royal Geographical Society in 2014.

Chronology of TV appearances and radio broadcasts

  • Life in Our Sea (1970–71)
  • Wildlife Spectacular (1971–72)
  • Bellamy on Botany (1972)
  • For Schools, Colleges: Exploring Science (1973)
  • The Animal Game (1973–74)
  • Don't Ask Me (1974–5)
  • What on Earth...are we doing: The Urban Spaceman (1974)
  • Bellamy's Britain (1974)
  • For Schools, Colleges: Exploring Science: Food Technology (1974)
  • For Schools, Colleges: Exploring Science: Soil (1975)
  • Choices for Tomorrow (1975–6)
  • This Is Your Life (1975)
  • Horizon: The Sickly Sea (1975)
  • The World About Us (1975)
  • Bellamy – on Botany! (1975)
  • It's Patently Obvious (1976)
  • Bellamy's Europe (1976)
  • Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (1976)
  • Any Questions? (1976)
  • The Book Programme (1976)
  • Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (1977)
  • Bellamy's Britain (1977) check
  • BBC: LONDON (1977)
  • Woman's Hour (1978)
  • Desert Island Discs (1978)
  • This Is Your Life [as the subject] (1978)
  • BBC: LONDON (1979)
  • It Figures (1979–1980)
  • We're Going Places (1979)
  • Parkinson (1979)
  • Blankety Blank (1979)
  • Go with Noakes (1979)
  • Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (1979–1981)
  • Up a Gum Tree (1979–1980)
  • Pebble Mill at One (1979)
  • The Countryside at Christmas (1979)
  • Woman's Hour (1980)
  • Through My Window (1980)
  • Wildlife (1980)
  • The Living World (1980)
  • Any Questions? (1980)
  • Ask Aspel (1981)
  • Bellamy's Backyard Safari (1981)
  • With Great Pleasure (1981)
  • David Bellamy [C of E Children's Society charity appeal] (1981)
  • For Schools, Colleges: Food, Food, Glorious Food (1981)
  • Pebble Mill at One (1981–82)
  • BBC: LONDON (1982–83)
  • Blue Peter (1982)
  • The Four Great Seasons (1982)
  • Just After Four (1983)
  • Wogan (1983)
  • Week's Good Cause (1983)
  • Countryside in Summer (1983)
  • Bellamy's New World (1983)
  • Rainbow Safari (1983)
  • Saturday Superstore (1984–87)
  • Grange Hill (1984)
  • What on Earth...? (1984)
  • BBC: NORTH EAST (1984)
  • Give Us A Conch (1984)
  • Speak Out (1984)
  • Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo (1984)
  • You Can't See the Wood... (1984)
  • John Dunn (1984)
  • Nature (1984)
  • British Social History: The Motor Car (1984)
  • Starting Out (1984)
  • The Lenny Henry Show (1984)
  • Songs of Praise (1984)
  • Week's Good Cause (1985–86)
  • The Kenny Everett Show (1985)
  • Soundings (1985)
  • Heroes (1985)
  • Bellamy's Seaside Safari (1985)
  • The End of the Rainbow Show (1985)
  • Q.E.D. (Round Britain Whizz) (1985)
  • For Schools: Contact Spring (1986)
  • The Kenny Everett Television Show (1986)
  • What on Earth...? (1986–8)
  • Bellamy's Bugle (1986–8)
  • Star Memories (1986)
  • Roger Royle Good Morning Sunday (1987)
  • Scene: Fido, Friend or Foe? (1987)
  • My Dog: My Rules – Adventures with Peanut Butter (1987)
  • It's Wicked! (1987)
  • With Great Pleasure (1987)
  • The Natural History Programme (1987)
  • Windmill (1987)
  • Nature (1988)
  • Woman's Hour (1988)
  • The New Battle for Britain (1988)
  • Umbrella (1988)
  • Penguins and Plum Puddings (1988)
  • It's Patently Obvious (1989)
  • Philip Schofield live from Kew Gardens (part of Green Week) (1989)
  • Questions: What Is a Person (1990)
  • The Leading Edge (1990)
  • The Media Show (1990)
  • Moa's Ark (1990)
  • Tomorrow's World Christmas Quiz (1990)
  • Bellamy on the Heathland (1991)
  • Bellamy Rides Again (1991)
  • Safari UK (1991)
  • Masterchef (1991)
  • The Garden Party (1991)
  • The Living World (1991)
  • TV: Six journeys through colour. (1991)
  • Bruce Forsyth's Children In Need Generation Game (1991)
  • The Clothes Show (1992)
  • Summer Scene (1992)
  • Wish You Were Here (1992)
  • Teaching Today (1992)
  • Blooming Bellamy (1993)
  • Children in Need (1993)
  • Sunday Half Hour Lights Shining in the Darkness (1993)
  • The Third Age (1993)
  • Family Affairs (1994)
  • Bellamy's Singapore (1994)
  • Will's World (1995)
  • Body Counts (1995)
  • Blue Peter (1995)
  • Big Day Out (1995)
  • Don Maclean (1996)
  • Upstream with Bellamy (1996)
  • Turning Points (1996)
  • In Celebration (1996)
  • Week's Good Cause (1997)
  • On the Scouting Trail (1997)
  • Christmas at the Castle (1997)
  • Don Maclean (1998)
  • Esther (1998)
  • Water Week (1998)
  • Songs of Praise (1998–9)
  • Fully Booked (1998)
  • Summer Disneytime (1998)
  • Geoff Hamilton: a Man and His Garden (1998)
  • Radio 4 Appeal (1999)
  • This Is Your Life (2000)
  • Time Bank – Celebrity Challenge (2000)
  • Breakfast (2001)
  • Kelly (2002)
  • This Is Your Life (2002)
  • On the Brink (2003)
  • Richard & Judy (2003–4)
  • Bee in Your Bonnet (2004)
  • Gardeners' World (2004)
  • Hell's Kitchen (2004)
  • The Way We Went Wild (2004)
  • The Heaven and Earth Show (2004)
  • The Daily Politics (2005)
  • Channel 4 News (2005)
  • The Swish of the Curtain (2007)
  • Tiswas Reunited (2007)
  • Lenny Henry's Perfect Night In (2007)
  • The Secret Life of the Motorway (2007)
  • Francesco's Mediterranean Voyage (2008)
  • Toy Stories (2009)
  • The Funny Side of (2009)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: David Bellamy para niños

  • Environmental movement
  • Environmentalism
  • Individual and political action on climate change
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