Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Jon Downes: Still on the track...........

John Tweddell Downes I.S.O

John Downes was born in Plymouth in1925. He joined the Merchant Navy in 1943 and served as a Communication's Officer during the Battle of the Atlantic. He returned to shore in 1947, and after marrying his childhood sweetheart Mary, worked for the Ministry of Agriculture in North Devon. In 1952 he joined the Colonial Service in Nigeria and together with Mary, worked in some of the most isolated parts of North Nigeria on the southern borders of the Sahara Desert. Often they were the first Europeans to have visited these remote regions for over half a century.

In 1960 John was transferred to Hong Kong where he rose to the rank of Assistant Colonial Secretary, and as a commisioned officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, founded the Hong Kong Sea Cadet Corps. His outstanding work within the Civil Service was duly recognised when he was made a companion to the Queen and awarded the Imperial Service Order. Unfortunately John was forced to take early retirement on medical grounds in 1971, and he and Mary spent the rest of their lives together in Woolfardisworthy, North Devon, where they quickly earned the respect and love of the local community. John became a financial manager for many local businesses, and was a tireless pillar of the community and church. He renewed his love of the sea by becoming the Commanding Officer of TS Revenge, the Bideford Sea Cadet Corps and became an inspiration for generations of young people.

During his retirement, John became an acknowledged author and was an expert in such diverse areas as African History, and Devonshire dialect. He was the author of several books including `A Dictionary of Devonshire Dialect` (1988), `Granfer's Bible Stories` (2005) and `Fragrant Harbours, Distant Rivers` (2006). He was widowed in 2002, and after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease, died peacefully in North Devon District Hospital on Tuesday February 14th aged 81. He is survived by his two sons, Jonathan Downes, (46) - Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology - and The Rev'd Richard Downes BEM CF (42), a Chaplain to the Forces in the Army. The funeral will take place at Clovelly Parish Church at 12 p.m on Tuesday 21st February.

My brother and I would like to extend a warm welcome to a reception at Myrtle Cottage, Woolsery at 1.30 pm, followed by a short service of committal at Barnstaple Crematorium at 3.30 pm. All members of the congregation are invited to attend this if they wish to do so.

No flowers by request, but donations can be made in his name to the Bideford Sea Cadets, or to the CFZ Trust (www.cfz.org.uk).