David James Bellamy OBE (born 18 January 1933) is an English author, broadcaster, environmental campaigner and botanist. He has lived in County Durham since 1960.
Bellamy went to school in London, attending Chatsworth Road Primary School 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) and a PhD at Bedford College in 1960.
Bellamy's first work in a scientific environment was as a laboratory assistant at Ewell Technical College before he studied for his BSc 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 that he worked on. 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
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 is 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 (Apeco).
In 2015, David Bellamy and his wife Rosemary visited Malaysia to explore its botanics.
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.
After his TV appearances concerning the Torrey Canyon disaster, his exuberant and demonstrative presentation of science topics made him a very popular presenter on programmes such as Don't Ask Me along with other scientific personalities such as Magnus Pyke, Miriam Stoppard and Rob Buckman. He has written, 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 "grapple me grapenuts" catchphrase. His distinctive voice has been used in advertising.
Chronology of TV appearances and radio broadcasts
In 1983 he was imprisoned for blockading the Australian Franklin River in a protest against a proposed dam. On the 18 of 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 Bergerac's cottage, 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 credits this campaign with the decline in his career as a popular celebrity and television personality, stating in 2002:
"In some ways it was probably the most stupid thing I ever did because I'm sure that if I have been banned from television, that's why. I used to be on Blue Peter and all those things, regularly, and it all, pffffft, stopped."
He is a prominent campaigner against the construction of wind farms in undeveloped areas. This is 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 is the President of the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) and is a strong supporter of the BICSc 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 also is a patron of the British Homeopathic Association, and the UK plastic recycling charity Recoup since 1998.
Views on global warming
In his foreword to the 1989 book The Greenhouse Effect, Bellamy wrote:
The profligate demands of humankind are causing far reaching changes to the atmosphere of planet Earth, of this there is no doubt. Earth's temperature is showing an upward swing, the so-called greenhouse effect, now a subject of international concern. The greenhouse effect may melt the glaciers and ice caps of the world causing the sea to rise and flood many of our great cities and much of our best farmland.
Bellamy's later statements on global warming indicate that he subsequently changed his views completely. A letter he published on 16 April 2005 in New Scientist asserted that a large percentage (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 has since 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.
His opinions have changed the way in which some organisations view Bellamy. The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts stated in 2005 "We are not happy with his line on climate change", and Bellamy was succeeded as president of the Wildlife Trusts by Aubrey Manning in November 2005. Bellamy has complained that his views on global warming have resulted in the rejection of programme ideas by the BBC.
Bellamy also holds or has 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.
- FOSUMS - Friends Of Sunderland Museums
- The Conservation Foundation, UK
- The Wildlife Trusts partnership
- The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country
- Durham Wildlife Trust
- Population Concern
- 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 has been awarded an Honorary Dr. of Science, degree from Bournemouth University. He is 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 Geographic Society in 2014.