TRIBUTES have poured in for an author, historian and environmentalist who put ‘Jersey on the map’ in the UAE.
Peter Hellyer died peacefully aged 75 in Abu Dhabi, where he had spent much of his life after moving to the United Arab Emirates in 1975.
Mr Hellyer, who was born and raised in Jersey, was awarded an Abu Dhabi medal in 2013 – the highest honour for a UAE citizen – for his work identifying key archaeological sites in the country.
He also wrote widely on desert ecology, led an archaeological survey across the Abu Dhabi Islands between 1991 and 2006, and was involved in the discovery of a 1,400-year-old Christian monastery on Sir Bani Yas Island.
In a statement, Jersey’s government said it was ‘deeply saddened’ by the passing of Mr Hellyer, ‘who devoted much of his life to promoting the history and conservation of nature in his adopted home in the UAE, where he was a well-loved and respected figure’.
Treasury Minister Ian Gorst said: ‘I would like to send my sincere condolences to Peter’s family, who remain in our thoughts at this difficult time. Peter was a true ambassador for the Island and his loss will be felt greatly by all those who knew him across his two homes of Jersey and the UAE.
‘I worked with Peter over many years and in different ministerial roles and I can think of no one who has done more to further the relationship between our two jurisdictions. Peter’s passion, knowledge and dedication was irrepressible. From his lifetime of tireless work, Peter leaves behind a remarkable legacy spanning many fields and geographies, and I am sure it is a legacy that will stand the test of time.’
The UAE-UK Business Council also paid tribute to Mr Hellyer, saying: ‘Peter Hellyer was a highly respected historian, naturalist and journalist. Most of all, though, he was a great friend of the UAE. He put Jersey on the map in the UAE, not least through wildlife protection. His legacy will most definitely live on.’
The UAE’s ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhoul meanwhile said: ‘[I’m] deeply saddened by the loss of Peter Hellyer, a true friend of the UAE whose legacy will remain imprinted in our hearts. His immeasurable contribution to our national narrative and pivotal role in our media landscape are a testament to his love for the UAE.’
Jersey Birding said it was ‘saddened’ to hear of Mr Hellyer’s passing, calling him a ‘wonderful person and fantastic ornithologist’.
St Brelade Constable Mike Jackson also paid his respects to the late Mr Hellyer.
He wrote: ‘I’m sorry to learn that Peter Hellyer has died in the UAE. We’d had some interesting conversations and he was incredibly well informed on middle eastern matters – he’ll be genuinely missed.’
Mr Hellyer was also a member of the Channel Islands WW2 Remembrance Campaign.
The organisation took to social media, writing: ‘We are deeply shocked with this news. Peter was our biggest supporter, donor and he believed in our campaign.
‘He’s been with us from day one. We say biggest thanks for your support and wise words. Rest forever Peter you are greatest. We will miss you.’