David Bird, ex-president of the NFA, has died

David Bird, ex-president of the National Federation of Anglers (NFA) and Chairman of the Specialist Anglers' Alliance, sadly passed away on Wednesday 18th August.

From Mike Heylin, Chairman of the Angling Trust -

It is with the greatest regret that we have to inform you that David Bird a good old friend and a tireless Champion for angling and fisheries died this morning, August 18th 2010.

David was a past President of the National Federation of Anglers and until the formation of the Angling Trust in 2009 was Chairman of the Specialist Anglers' Alliance.

David started the concept of Information Sheets when he was President of NFA and they were later taken on by NAFAC. Angling Trust now publishes them, so his original idea lives on.

David was a very dear friend, mentor and a special inspiration for many of us involved in the administration and development of angling organisations. He had done it all in angling, been a successful match angler, match organiser, club secretary, NFA rep, President of the NFA, Conservation Director of the ATA, chairman of the SAA and finally chairman of the Fish Welfare Group, of which he was immensely proud.

He enjoyed nothing more than his trips to Kenya hunting marlin, sailfish and other exotics with Maggie his wife and was looking forward to the next only last week.

He became President of the NFA at a time when change was needed and gave his health to that struggle. He was only in the job a short time before it took its toll and he had to resign. But he never gave up the fight for stronger representation of the sport he loved so dearly.

He had fought for angling for over thirty years and it was his life.

He and I worked closely together for many years, had many and frequent massive rows about policy but never once did those arguments dent our friendship. I last saw David at the Game Fair, an annual pilgrimage for him. He was obviously not well and waiting the results of some medical tests. He and I shared a cup of tea and we spoke at length but he no longer had the energy I knew him for. He had planned today (Wednesday) to have a living wake because he didn't want us to have a funeral for him that he would not remember. He would have enjoyed having his friends around him one more time. He died only three hours before we were due to see him again.

He was formative in the development of the Fish Welfare Group which exists today and carries on the work he started. He, along with others, defended angling when it was under attack from the animal rights movement and remained vigilant to the danger of personal attacks on his home.

David had an opinion on everything, from Europe and the Common Fisheries Policy to the international needs of fish and angling and anglers. He had a world vision, was well read in his subject and had an incisive and agile mind in developing new ideas and carrying them into fruition. David was not everyone's cup of tea, but he was a dear friend and I was proud and privileged to know him. When we were together we both felt we had known each other for ever and we were brothers.

The world is a poorer place for his leaving us but we are all richer for the fact that he was here. It is our responsibility as anglers to continue so much of what David started.

I hope he can now find the peace he could not find in life.

God bless you David.

Michael Heylin