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Tributes paid to bird expert and husband of crime author; MOURNERS HEAR OF THE LIFE AND TRAVELS OF 'ACE BIRDER'.

Byline: DAVID WHETSTONE Writer david.whetstone@ncjmedia.com @DAVIDJWHETSTONE

FAMILY, friends and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to Tim Cleeves, a respected and wellknown figure in birdwatching circles and husband of crime writer Ann Cleeves.

The chapel at Whitley Bay Crematorium was packed to overflowing for Tuesday morning's funeral service.

Tim died suddenly in hospital on December 15 after being admitted for a heart condition.

At the funeral, led by celebrant Gail More, mourners heard of his sterling qualities as a family man and a friend.

They learned that a diagnosis in middle age of bipolar disorder hadn't prevented him being open to all possibilities in life and to travelling widely to places including China, Uzbekistan, Bolivia and Antarctica.

Much of his travelling was birdrelated.

In a Facebook tribute, writer and environmental campaigner Dr Mark Avery described him as "an ace birder" who kept notebooks of his sightings from the age of 13.

He added: "Tim had various jobs from taxidermist to petrol pump attendant and debt collector in his early years, which helped to fund birding trips abroad.

"But he also worked for the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) as species protection officer on a summer contract in Wales, guarding red kites and peregrines in the mid-1970s.

"Later he landed the job of warden of Hilbre Island (off the Wirral peninsula) where he lived for four and a half years (1977-81), with his wife Ann.

Tim variety of RSPB, north of all benefiting skills with Dr Mark "As they started their family Tim got a job in the RSPB Midlands office and was involved in coordinating volunteers on such projects as the Symonds Yat Peregrine Watch.

"Tim worked in a variety of roles for the RSPB, mostly in the north of England, but all benefiting from his skills with people."

Born on the outskirts of Bristol in 1951, Tim met his future wife on Fair Isle, in the Shetland Isles, where he had gone as a bird-watcher.

Ann, who had previously worked as a child care officer in London, had a friend who landed the job of assistant warden on the island.

He rang to say worked in a roles for the in the England, but from his people. Avery there was a job going as assistant cook and Ann took the plunge, making the long trip north via train and boat. While Ann had little initial interest in the birds, she was smitten by the island and the people who lived there - and most significantly by Tim.

The couple got married, Tim started working for the RSPB and they returned for a second season on Fair Isle.

Ann's first novel as budding crime writer, A Bird in the Hand, was set in the world of the 'twitchers',' the most dedicated of bird-watchers.

As she established herself as an author, notably through heroine Vera Stanhope, one of Ann's most popular sequences of books was her Shetland Island series which would be adapted for BBC TV.

Tim was also credited as a writer, co-authoring titles including the RSPB Handbook of British Birds and Birds New to Britain.

The couple, who had daughters Sarah and Ruth, had been settled for many years in the Whitley Bay area, again liking the place and the people.

At the funeral mourners were asked to wear blue and white, the colours of Tim's beloved Bristol Rovers football team.

Music at the funeral included Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles, Who Knows Where The Time Goes by Sandy Denny and Goodnight, Irene by American blues singer Lead Belly.

Author Ann Cleeves, wife of Tim

the job of warden Island (off the where and a 81), projects Symonds Watch. in a variety of Ann, who had as a child care had a landed the island. He there going Ann the via While initial birds, she the island and th"Tim worked in a variety of roles for the RSPB, mostly in the north of England, but all benefiting from his skills with people." Dr Mark Avery
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 4, 2018
Words:672
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