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New portrait of Sir David Attenborough donated to wildlife conservation charity

New portrait of Sir David Attenborough donated to wildlife conservation charity
Sir David Attenborough reacts after unveiling a new portrait of himself (Victoria Jones/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Victoria Jones

Sir David Attenborough has helped unveil a new portrait of himself that has been donated to a wildlife conservation charity.

The 96-year-old broadcaster and environmentalist has been a member of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) – which is dedicated to protecting the planet’s threatened wildlife and habitats – since 1959 and its vice-president since 1979.

The portrait, by artist Rosalie Watkins, was unveiled at FFI’s London office on Wednesday during an intimate ceremony, with Sir David and his daughter Susan in attendance.

Sir David Attenborough portraitSir David Attenborough with artist Rosalie Watkins (Victoria Jones/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Victoria Jones

The painting has been donated to FFI by philanthropist and FFI trustee Kim Stewart, and her family, to mark Sir David’s contribution to conservation and to serve in memory of her son Duncan Stewart, a young naturalist inspired by Sir David’s example.

Duncan died in a car accident at the age of 18 while working as a marine biologist studying migratory fish in Scotland’s west coast rivers.

In the coming weeks the portrait will be installed in the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge, home to FFI’s UK head office and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), of which Sir David is an honorary patron.

Sir David Attenborough portraitSir David Attenborough makes a speech after the unveiling (Victoria Jones/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Victoria Jones

In a statement, Kim Stewart said: “The Stewart family is donating Rosalie Watkins’ wonderful portrait of Sir David to Fauna & Flora International in memory of Duncan.

“Sir David Attenborough was, simply, Duncan’s hero. As a 17-year-old, Duncan wrote to Sir David, inviting him to come and talk at Winchester College.

“He accepted and not only had the whole school spell-bound but agreed to become the patron of the school’s Natural History Society.

“When Duncan was killed, Sir David wrote a very kind letter saying that ‘we cannot afford to lose young people like Duncan’.

“Duncan chose his hero well.”

Sir David Attenborough portraitThe unveiling took place during an intimate event (Victoria Jones/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Victoria Jones

The painting was done in oil on canvas by Watkins following three sittings at Sir David’s London home.

Speaking about the finished piece, Watkins said: “I wanted the portrait to be dignified to reflect the esteem in which we all hold Sir David Attenborough.

“But there also had to be an element of unease to reflect his concern for the current environmental situation, so it being split over two canvases, creating a subtle rupture in the surface, is the reference to that unease.”

Mark Rose, chief executive of FFI, said: “We are enormously grateful for the support Sir David has provided to FFI as a member and vice-president over the past 60 years, but beyond that we are thankful for the impact he has had on conservation more widely.

“It is a great honour to be gifted this remarkable new portrait, which not only celebrates Sir David’s extraordinary contribution to conservation but will serve in memory of Duncan Stewart, a young naturalist who was inspired by his incredible example.”

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