A Kent charity has paid tribute to a naturalist and broadcaster who championed their causes for more than a decade.
Professor David Bellamy, who died yesterday aged 86, was an Honourary Patron of the KM Charity team.
Simon Dolby, founder of the charity, enlisted Prof Bellamy shortly after it was founded in 2000.
At that time the team's focus was solely on the walk to school campaign and had not yet broadened into literacy and STEM subjects.
It was this shared passion for green issues that led to Prof Bellamy agreeing to support the fledgling cause.
Mr Dolby said: "It was such a shock to hear of his death. David was such a lovely man and so supportive of me and the charity in its early years.
"One of my proudest moments with the charity was attending the international Green Apple environment awards at the Houses of Parliament which David was hosting and hearing him say in front of the 100 winners ‘and now the award I’ve been looking forward to presenting most – this one goes to my charity’.
"It made a great day absolutely fantastic."
Over the years the charity was presented with five Green Apple Awards, of which Prof Bellamy was proudly able to present three personally.
Former Trustee of the KM Charity Team, Teresa Curteis said: “David’s support of the charity inspired me so much in those early days.
"He gave me the confidence to believe what we were working to achieve could have the scale and impact we hope for.”
With Prof Bellamy’s support the charity regularly signed up in excess of 30,000 families at more than 100 Kent schools to use its walk to school initiatives.
The 20 year impact of the green schemes is more than seven million green journeys recorded and 17,000 road safety skill tests passed by children involved in that time.
As well as attending visits of Kent schools involved with the charity’s walking bus and Walk on Wednesday initiatives, Prof Bellamy was guest of honour at the annual Walk to School Awards – the forerunner of the Green School Awards.
In 2007 he joined Kent actor and performer Shaun Williamson and the late Dave Lee to entertain guests and present awards at the Hop Farm and in 2011 he was guest of honour at the Great Danes Hotel.
Mr Dolby, who is now communications manager at Kent construction company Streetspace, said: “We are fast approaching the 20th anniversary of the KM Charity Team and, of course, two decades of it’s annual eco awards.
"In the early years this was branded the Walk to School Awards and more recently as the Green School Awards. It is impossible for me, as founder of the KM Charity Team, not to remember Prof Bellamy’s enormous contribution to its work in this anniversary year."