MANY readers will remember, with great affection, Herald and News columnist Derek Belsey who, for many years, provided us with words and pictures about his favourite obsession – birds.
Sadly, in January 2008 Derek died at the age of 67 following a long and arduous battle against Motor Neurone Disease, a debilitating ailment which robbed him of his speech and mobility and, ultimately, of his life, and we can no longer look forward to his entertaining ornithological columns in this newspaper.
But the chance to enjoy his stunning photographic talents lives on thanks to his wife, Patricia, and close friend, Cliff Douthwaite, who are keeping Derek’s memory alive through his recently-revamped website at www.derek-belsey.com.
Through the internet, Pat is offering for sale copies of some of the books that Derek produced – beautifully illustrated with pictures of a huge variety of birds that he photographed over the years.
She told me: “Derek was passionate about his hobby – he was always fascinated by wildlife and he loved to take pictures and to give talks about the different species he watched.
“All the money raised from the sale of his books went to the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in Hampton – something else he was passionate about – and I am very keen that his work lives on to be enjoyed by future generations. We will continue to offer his books for sale via the website we shall continue to donate the proceeds to the Shooting Star.”
Derek was a wonderful guy with a wry and cheeky sense of humour who apart from his interest in ornithology was also a very keen sportsman – he managed Chertsey football club for several years. As Pat said, if there was a sport of any kind, Derek was into it and he brought to everything he did the same enthusiasm and commitment.
It’s great to know that his spirit lives on through the web – I can highly recommend a visit to the site and his books – extremely good value at between £3 and £6.99 – are a positive treasure trove for anyone interested in learning more about our feathered friends.