Leicester pays tribute to David Attenborough on his 90th birthday

The University is sending Sir David Attenborough a special birthday message on the eve of his milestone 90th birthday on Sunday 8 May.

A tribute to Sir David will be featured on the University’s homepage while our Facebook and Twitter accounts will be filled with archive material of his many associations with our University.

It comes on the day that NERC announced that its latest polar research ship is to be named 'RRS David Attenborough' in his honour.

The naturalist and long-running television personality is a Distinguished Honorary Fellow of the University and earlier this year opened a new gallery extension to the University’s Attenborough Arts Centre. Founded by his brother Richard Attenborough, it is just one of the many ways that the Attenborough family has been intertwined with the history of the University of Leicester.

Frederick Attenborough, father to David and Richard Attenborough, was appointed Principal of University College Leicester in 1932. Sir David grew up on our campus and lived in College House, which is now part of our Department of Mathematics. Our Attenborough Tower is named in Frederick Attenborough’s honour and the Attenborough Arboretum is named for and was opened by Sir David.

Sir David shares his memories on living in Leicester in an interview earlier this year:

Both Richard and David Attenborough received honorary degrees from the University in 1970, and then returned to be awarded Distinguished Honorary Fellowships in 2006 – the highest honour that the University can bestow.

Sir David's speech upon receiving his Distinguished Honorary Fellowship:

Originally known as The Richard Attenborough Centre for Arts and Disability, the Attenborough Arts Centre was the result of a campaign championed and led by Lord (then Sir Richard) Attenborough. It was officially opened on 27 May 1997 by HRH Diana, The Princess of Wales as one of her last public engagements before her untimely death. Lord Attenborough was patron of the arts centre for the rest of his life and now the patronage has been handed to his son, theatre director, Michael Attenborough CBE.

Michaela Butter, Director of the Attenborough Arts Centre, said: “The Attenborough Arts Centre team would like to wish Sir David Attenborough a very happy 90th birthday and to thank David for his support toward opening a brand new contemporary art gallery, to inspire communities and families across Leicester and beyond.”

“We have a wall full of photographs and memorabilia in the centre that is dedicated to the Attenborough family, featuring the opening of our new gallery by Sir David Attenborough and the late Sir Richard Attenborough our founding patron, next to photographs of his son Michael who has now taken over as our new patron to support the arts centre.”

Find out more about Sir David's lifelong association with the University at our pop-up exhibition (pictured right) on display in Charles Wilson foyer for the next two weeks.