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Widow is reunited with treasured case of photographs

By Christopher Woodhouse and Amanda Ferguson

Published 22/07/2015

Melven James and Kris Campbell yesterday with the recovered photographs
Melven James and Kris Campbell yesterday with the recovered photographs
A treasured picture of Melven with her husband, motorcycle journalist Dermot James

The widow of a distinguished motorcycle journalist has been reunited with a briefcase of treasured photographs stolen by burglars.

Melven James thought she would never again see the pictures and documents left by her late husband, Dermot James.

However, thanks to a bit of good luck and the help of the Belfast Telegraph, the mementoes are back in her possession.

Melven said: "I went to hunt for the briefcase a few weeks ago and couldn't find it. I didn't realise it was missing from a burglary in April."

Kris Campbell (28), a civil engineer from Banbridge, found it dumped by a river in Co Down late last week.

The contents were water damaged but Kris managed to save the pictures by carefully drying them in his greenhouse. "On Friday morning I was doing a survey around a bridge in the Newry direction," he said.

"I noticed a couple of what looked like wedding photographs on the ground. I saw a big, blue security box that was smashed open.

"We had our place burgled a few years ago and mum had a few things - monetarily worthless but priceless to her - stolen."

Kris contacted the Belfast Telegraph and we were able to get in touch with Melven, who was overjoyed.

She said: "I am absolutely amazed it has been recovered. It is so sentimental. I am over the Moon."

Dermot was one of the most respected motorcycle journalists in Northern Ireland, having covered the sport for over four decades before his death in 2013, aged 70.

A former school teacher, Dermot was mainly known as the motorcycle correspondent for The News Letter but also wrote for Sunday Life, Sunday World and the now defunct Sunday News.

He is credited with coining the phrase "Dromara Destroyers" for the famed group of riders comprising Ian McGregor, Ray McCullough, Trevor Steele and Brian Reid.

Such was his talent that national sporting publications also sought his reports and analysis; he wrote the Irish Notebook in Motor Cycle News for whom he was the local correspondent for many years, as well as contributing to the BBC, UTV, RTE and Manx Radio.

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