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Music video director who worked with Simon Cowell, Jamiroquai and Tom Jones heads to Philippines

By WBCraig  |  Posted: December 04, 2013

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Watt Bjerregaard testing the water at the main drinking well on Malapascua Island for e-coli.

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A MUSIC video director who has worked with Simon Cowell, Jamiroquai and Tom Jones has drastically changed his career and is now helping Shelterbox in the Philippines.

Two weeks ago father-of-two Matt Bjerregaard left his home in Penryn to help people affected by Typhoon Yolanda and to follow his passion for environmental science.

Since arriving he has been distributing water purification units and carrying out ecological assessments in Cebu.

As a former research diver living and working in the area, he has also used his local knowledge to advise the charity on the need for aid in certain areas.

“When we lived out in the region, my family and I survived several super typhoons and I remember how terrifying these direct hits were to experience,” he said.

“However Yolanda is magnitudes worse than those we suffered and I could only watch in horror from Penryn and wait in hope for news from my friends online.

“From my research, I know communities on other islands. I also speak some of the local dialects, in particular the local fishing community vocabulary.”

It’s a far cry from what Mr Bjerregaard's former career as a BBC-qualified producer and director.

During his career, he has directed Simon Cowell and High Fearnley-Whittingstall and made programs for Discovery Channel and Channel 4.

He has made music videos, commercials and reality documentaries and edited cutting edge action movies using highly specialised slow motion cameras.

But his real passion has always been for environmental science, having also put together ecological works and worked with underwater camera units.

Mr Bjerregaard has just finished a conservation and biodiversity science degree at Penryn campus.

“My main interests are how human ecology in the form of subsistence and survival fishing communities functions alongside non extractive eco-tourism.

“I also have grave concerns for this incredible archipelagic region of the world which harbours a great density of biodiversity and speciation which has yet to be fully discovered.

“Ultimately, many of these agricultural and fisher livelihoods are dependent upon this ecology functioning.

“I’ve already seen huge numbers of bats dead and in many regions, a scarcity of birds.

“The reefs I have had a chance to look at also have suffered substantial impact.”

Mr Bjerregaard will be away from his partner and two sons, Dylan, 5, and Ioan, 2, until December 23.

His partner Juliet Rutherford, said: “I’m very proud of what he’s doing. It’s not easy at this end, looking after two boys and working, but I know it pales into insignificance when you see what people are dealing with over there.”

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  • First Impressions  |  December 04 2013, 10:38AM

    I wish you every success in your efforts out there. It's people like you who deserve accolades for such achievement. Your work has also highlighted how serious the problem is out there and makes more people aware. Well done Matt.

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