New portrait of Sir David Attenborough donated to wildlife conservation charity

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

The 96-year-old broadcaster and conservationist has been a member of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) – dedicated to protecting the planet’s endangered 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 in an intimate ceremony, attended by Sir David and his daughter Susan.

Sir David Attenborough with artist Rosalie Watkins (Victoria Jones/PA)

The painting was 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 his son Duncan Stewart, a young naturalist inspired by the example of Sir David.

Duncan died in a car accident aged 18 while working as a marine biologist studying migratory fish in rivers on the west coast of Scotland.

In the coming weeks, the portrait will be installed in the David Attenborough building in Cambridge, which houses the UK headquarters of FFI and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI), of which Sir David is an honorary patron.

Portrait of Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough delivers a speech after the unveiling (Victoria Jones/PA)

In a statement, Kim Stewart said: “The Stewart family donates the beautiful portrait of Sir David by Rosalie Watkins to Fauna & Flora International in memory of Duncan.

“Sir David Attenborough was, quite simply, Duncan’s hero. At the age of 17, Duncan wrote to Sir David, inviting him to speak at Winchester College.

“He agreed and not only fascinated the whole school, 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 ‘we cannot afford to lose young people like Duncan’.

“Duncan chose his hero well.”

Portrait of Sir David Attenborough
The unveiling took place at an intimate event (Victoria Jones/PA)

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

Speaking of 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 being split across two canvases, creating a subtle break in the surface, is the reference to that unease.”

Mark Rose, Chief Executive of FFI, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support Sir David has given to FFI as a member and Vice-Chairman over the past 60 years, but beyond that we are grateful of the impact it has had on conservation more broadly.

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

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