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Genial broadcaster Derek Davis mourned

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 14/05/2015

The familiar figure of Derek Davis on television
The familiar figure of Derek Davis on television

Glowing tributes have been paid to acclaimed Co Down-born broadcaster and journalist Derek Davis following his death aged 67.

He suffered a stroke on Monday and died yesterday.

Mr Davis started his career in news with BBC Northern Ireland before moving to US network ABC and then to RTE. Over the years he presented a number of radio and TV shows including A Taste Of Ulster and the Rose Of Tralee.

Last year the genial presenter said the birth of a grandson had inspired him to lose weight and he underwent gastric band surgery. He said shedding more than five stone was an effort "to improve both the quality and the potential length of my life".

Mike Edgar, head of entertainment and events at BBC NI, said of his former colleague: "Derek was truly a larger than life character, a tremendously gifted all-round broadcaster, articulate and very humorous.

"His brilliant presentation of food programmes was well ahead of its time and that of the celebrity chefs of today.

"Derek was an incredibly popular part of BBC Northern Ireland in those days, bringing good humour and fun into homes at a time in our history when it was so welcome for a multitude of reasons. Derek Davis - a gent of a man who will be dearly missed."

Belfast singer Brian Kennedy also paid tribute: "Had the sincere pleasure of working with him a few times. What a gent."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among the politicians to mark his passing.

"He was a great broadcaster and a gentleman," Mr McGuinness wrote on Twitter.

South Down SDLP MLA Sean Rogers said Mr Davis will be greatly missed.

"He was of course born in Co Down and has great connections with us," he said. "He will in particular be remembered by those who followed Celebrity Bainisteoir and his fortunes as manager with Glassdrumman, the GAA team."

Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath was Mr Davis' mentor on the show. He recalled he had arrived for the first training session armed with a gigantic kit bag and quipped: "Don't worry everybody, it's just my lunch."

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