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Friends pay warm tribute to champion of the community’

PUBLISHED: 13:53 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:36 25 August 2010

A LOCAL hero who worked for the community for 30 years has died. Retired headteacher, Michael Winship, 67, died on March 30, in his Sidcup home from heart failure.

A LOCAL hero who worked for the community for 30 years has died.

Retired headteacher, Michael Winship, 67, died on March 30, in his Sidcup home from heart failure.

The father-of-two was an 'energetic and charismatic leader' and a member of many community and activist groups.

He was group leader of the RSPB Bexley Group, a member of the RSPB council and Education and Membership Committee until 1998.

He also campaigned tirelessly against the Belvedere incinterator, chairing the community liason group and speaking at both public inquiries as well as campaigning to save Erith Marshes from redevelopment.

Times nature columnist Eric Brown said: "When I first joined the Bexley RSPB Group I found Michael an energetic and charismatic leader.

"He was a big man with the ability, in the nicest possible way, to dominate a room full of people and command instant respect.

"Michael worked tirelessly for the welfare of birds and campaigned endlessly on a whole range of conservation issues. He devoted many hours to various causes and will be sadly missed."

Environmental campaigner Tim Chapman said: "I know this will be echoed from many others - he was an honest and true friend whose support for an essential cause was unwavering, whatever the tribulations and effort involved.

"He forever spoke with deep conviction and always with an eloquence that everybody could understand. He was a major inspiration for myself and many others. I will never forget his smile, grace, honesty, that mad white hair, twinkly humour, support and true friendship given so freely."

Mr Winship, a member of the Oxleas Partnership and the Patients' Forum at Queen Mary's Hospital, was hospitalised for six months after a fire broke out at his home last August before later being discharged in February.

He then relocated to temporary accommodation, a small flat, close to his home.

Mr Winship moved to Sidcup in the early 1970s to teach at Longland Primary School in Woodside Road, Sidcup.

He went on to become deputy head at Princes Plain in Church Lane, Bromley and headteacher at Lesnes Primary School, Lesnes Abbey and Belmont Primary School, Erith.

He was widowed in 2004 after his wife Carole died but is survived by two sons, Jeremy and Dominic.

His funeral is at Christ Church, Main Road, Sidcup, at 1pm on April 18.

His family have requested people donate to the RSPB instead of flowers.

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