Former Echo man completes friend’s dying wish

Brian Unwin.
Brian Unwin.
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A FORMER Sunderland Echo reporter fulfilled his friend’s dying wish by completing his guide to birdwatching.

Brian Unwin’s lifelong dream was to produce a guide for twitchers visiting the North East.

But when the Whitburn journalist lost his battle against cancer at 66 in December last year, the book was left incomplete.

Publishers Buckingham Press were desperate to find someone to finish Brian’s work and friend, fellow journalist and birdwatcher Ian Kerr, who worked for the Sunderland Echo until 1997, fitted the bill perfectly.

He finished the manuscript, allowing Brian’s work to finally be published.

Ian said: “I had known Brian for many years and been a birdwatcher. I took over his newspaper column when he was in hospital and when he became very ill he asked me to work on finishing his book.

“Brian had always wanted to do this.

“Even in hospital, he was still making notes for the book and I’m told a few days before he died, he was still working on it.”

The task was not easy and many of the most time-consuming sections of the book remained unfinished but it was a job Ian was only too happy to take on.

“I’m just delighted the book has finally appeared with Brian’s name on it,” he said.

Equally happy is Brian’s widow, Jennifer, who said she is extremely grateful to Ian for the work he put into finishing the book.

She said: “I’m very happy to see it published. A lot of work went into it and Brian didn’t want to see it wasted.

“He was very frustrated that he was too ill to complete it.

“It’s nice for our eight grandchildren, because they won’t remember him, to see what their Grandpa loved.

“I’m very grateful to Ian because without him it would never have been finished.”

Twitter: @sunechomark