James Belsey - Former Bristol Evening Post staffer and well-known freelance who raised the profile of charities

James Belsey, one of Bristol’s best-known journalists, has died. He was 60.

For
generations of Bristol Evening Post readers, James was the man who
captured the popular mood, in particular with his reports and reviews
on the music scene.

He arrived at the newspaper in 1966 and was
soon making a name for himself with coverage of the city in the hectic
scene that was the Swinging Sixties and Seventies.

James was a
virtual ever-present at the Colston Hall, reviewing some of the biggest
bands of the moment in the days when supergroups were a familiar sight
at the venue. But his journalistic range was much wider than
contemporary music. His interests were many and varied and James could
turn his hand to producing an authoritative feature on whatever subject
was asked of him.

Particular interests included all aspects of the arts and he had numerous friends among the city’s artists.

Gardens great and small were another facet of James’ expert writing, as well as a passion for Bristol’s history.

Educated
at Downside School in Somerset, his journalist career began as a cub
reporter on the Birmingham Evening Post. From there he moved to the
Stratford-upon-Avon Herald and thence to the Bristol Evening Post.

James
was one of three children. His mother, a former executive with the
famous American advertising agency Young and Rubican, is also an author.

After
leaving the Evening Post, where he was deputy features editor, in 1993,
James pursued a freelance career. He helped increase the profile of the
Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood charity (CLIC), worked for the
Bristolbased Centre for Reproductive Medicine, numerous quality
magazines and the regional in-flight publication for airline
EasyJet.James was also an author. He contributed to a number of books
and one of his own, which attracted a significant interest, was a
lavish coffeetable tome called The Great Pubs of England. He wrote many
published pieces about his home city and one – The Forgotten Front –
was turned into a TV programme.

James was a good friend and a
great bloke to work with. He was one of the first local journalists to
seriously embrace the fledgling pop culture and treat it seriously. His
depth of knowledge on all manner of subjects from music icons to local
history was truly phenomenal.

Bristol author Derek Robinson said:
“When James went freelance, what impressed me was the range of work he
would do – and he did it all extremely well.”

Derek Balmer,
president of the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), was another who
knew James well. “He was a huge supporter of me personally, the arts
and the RWA too. He was always there when you needed him and gave me
particular personal attention and help. As the voice in Bristol for
supporting and promoting the arts, he will be impossible to replace.”

Bob
Woodward, founder of CLIC, said: “I speak for many hundreds of people
who were involved with me in the early years of CLIC when I say how
deeply saddened we were to learn of the death of dear James, who was
one of For half a century, a chronicler of life in Nuneaton Subbing
team manager, Essex County Newspapers Bristol’s best-known and
best-loved journalists.

“James was involved with CLIC from its
inception in 1976. He took a keen personal interest through the years
and wrote numerous articles which eventually led to him writing The
CLIC Story: The Fight to Save Young Lives, which was published in 1990.

“James’
patience was inexhaustible as he took time to ensure that he had
interpreted facts correctly. He had a tremendous gift for getting to
the core of each story or report that needed to be produced, and
handling stories in the most sensitive manner.

“James’
contribution to the growth and wellbeing of the charity was
outstanding. He was among CLIC’S finest ambassadors as he produced or
advised on all published material. He was full of fun with a great zest
for life which made him a particular joy to work with. All of us who
were involved with CLIC for almost a quarter of a century, together
with literally hundreds of young cancer patients and their families,
have cause to be indebted to James for all he did in helping to build
the firm foundations on which the charity continues to grow.”

James leaves a wife, Ava, and two children, Christopher and Harriet.

The funeral took place on Monday 16 May at Canford Crematorium, Bristol.

Tim Davey Bristol Evening Post

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