BOTANIST Dr David Bellamy will celebrate his 80th birthday at home in Hamsterley today (Friday, January 18) – and is already looking forward to the day he receives a congratulatory note from the monarch in 20 years' time.

“I hope I make it to 100 – I would love to get my letter from the queen, or king, whoever it may be,” he joked.

He has, by his own admission, enjoyed a wonderful life, remains a familiar face when out and about and is still a man in demand.

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“These days, I do the things I want to do,” he said.

“I try to keep up with botany and I go walking around here with ex-students who pop by from time to time.”

And there is the large garden at his home to keep him busy.

Having studied and later taught at Durham University, Dr Bellamy still enjoys visiting schools.

“The children have to look up who I am and it's the teachers who say they grew up with me.

“But I can go round the world and people still come up to me and ask me for my signature.

“I have had a wonderful life – never did a day's work and enjoyed everything I did.

"Thanks to the BBC and ITV I had 20 years making TV programmes in the school holidays, so I took the family round with us – it was fantastic.”

Now a grandfather of nine, he will celebrate his birthday with Rosemary, his wife of more than 50 years, family and friends.