Naturalist and TV broadcaster David Bellamy dies at 86

Naturalist and broadcaster David Bellamy has died at the age of 86, the Conservation Foundation has said.

Bellamy died on Wednesday, according to the foundation, of which he was president and co-founder.

In a statement, David Shreeve, director of the Conservation Foundation, said:

Sadly, I have to report that David Bellamy died this morning.

David Shreeve, Conservation Foundation

London-born Bellamy was a household name as TV personality, scientist and conservationist.

He inspired Sir Lenny Henry's "grapple me grapenuts" catchphrase and was a regular presence on TV.

Bellamy, who lived in County Durham, later attracted criticism for dismissing global warming.

In 2004 he described climate change as "poppycock" and later said the stance cost him his TV career.

Speaking to the Independent in 2013, he said: "All of the work dried up after that. I was due to start another series with the BBC but that didn't go anywhere, and the other side (ITV) didn't want to know. I was shunned. Theydidn't want to hear the other side."

Asked by the paper if he stood by his statement, Bellamy said: "Absolutely.

"It is not happening at all, but if you get the idea that people's children will die because of CO2 they fall for it."

The Durham Wildlife Trust released a statement on Thursday paying tribute to Mr Bellamy.

It said: "Durham Wildlife Trust is very saddened to hear the news about David Bellamy’s passing and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.

"David was instrumental in founding Durham Wildlife Trust almost fifty years ago. He was the Trust President for many years and more recently held the position of Trust Patron."

David was passionate about nature conservation and shared that enthusiasm through his work, inspiring the next generation of naturalists and ensuring that wildlife in his home area of North East England was protected for the future.

Durham Wildlife Trust

Comedy writer and radio presenter Danny Baker has paid tribute to Bellamy, calling him a "truly brilliant and canny broadcaster".

Referencing Henry's "grapple me grapenuts" catchphrase that Bellamy inspired, Baker added: "Thoughts with @LennyHenry at this time."

Bellamy worked in a factory and as a plumber before meeting his future wife, Rosemary, who died last year. The couple had five children.

Bellamy studied and later taught botany at Durham University.

He achieved wider recognition following his work on the Torrey Canyon oil spill in 1967. Offers for TV work followed, launching his small screen career.

Thanks to his distinctive voice and screen presence, Bellamy quickly became a popular presenter on programmes such as Don't Ask Me.

He also fronted his own shows, including Bellamy On Botany, Bellamy's Britain, Bellamy's Europe and Bellamy's Backyard Safari.

In 1979 he won Bafta's Richard Dimbleby Award.