BBC journalist Seamus Kelters an ‘exceptionally kind human being’

Seamus Kelters
Seamus Kelters

Journalist Seamus Kelters who died on Wednesday at the age of 54 has been described as a “conscientious reporter” and “an exceptionally kind human being”.

Mr Kelters was the assistant editor of BBC Newsline and was the “driving force” behind Lost Lives – an acclaimed Troubles’ encyclopedia.

The News Letter spoke to BBC journalist Chris Thornton, who was one of the authors on Lost Lives.

He first encountered Mr Kelters as he took his early steps to becoming a journalist.

He said: “When I started in the Irish News in 1988 Seamus was working as a freelance and very soon became a staffer. He clearly shone out as a very talented reporter but also a very conscientious reporter and very thorough journalist.

“I had come in for a little bit of work experience and I was incredibly lucky to be able to learn from Seamus.

“He was such a generous person to work with, incredibly helpful in difficult situations which I found myself in.”

It was at the Irish News that the pair began work on a project that was to become Lost Lives.

He explained: “In 1990/91 we were working on a project on the (Troubles) killings in north Belfast. We made a database of north Belfast killings and then we decided we should look at them all.

“There was never any intention to have a book. We just thought it would be a useful reference tool for journalists and others.

“Seamus was the heart and soul of that Lost Lives group. He was the driving forced behind it. I was lucky enough to assist him on it.”

Mr Thornton had a spell at the News Letter before he was back in the same building as his former colleague at the BBC.

“I started working on the Spotlight programme and Seamus was in the news department by then,” he said.

“Seamus was a very, very important figure in the BBC newsroom.

“The same conscientiousness and integrity that he brought to his journalism he also brought to his own life.

“He really, really was just an exceptionally kind human being.

“While he’d been ill his death came very suddenly and was completely unexpected.”

Peter Johnston, director of BBC Northern Ireland, said: “Seamus Kelters was the epitome of BBC journalism and a central figure in the Belfast newsroom for decades. He also brought his great skill and knowledge to his significant contribution to public life beyond the BBC and in advising so many young journalists.”

Seamus was married to Camilla and has two sons – Brendan and Michael.