There can’t be many people currently working or studying in ecology, conservation, or the environmental sciences who were not in some way inspired by the programmes presented by Sir David Attenborough during his long career. I certainly was, and I can trace my interest in the richness of our planet’s biodiversity right back to watching his ground-breaking series Life on Earth as a young teenager, and then reading the book, bought for me by my parents.
As you are probably aware, yesterday was Sir David’s 90th birthday, and the tributes to his iconic status as part of the scientific and cultural fabric of our nation, and his international standing, have been extensive and heartfelt. My personal favourites include naming the new NERC research vessel the RSS Sir David Attenborough and having a Madagascan dragonfly named after him by my friend and colleague KD Dijkstra, whose work I’ve highlighted previously on this blog.
But in the midst of all of these tributes and celebrations of a spectacular career, the measure of the man can be summed up by his taking the time to send a hand-written letter to one of our undergraduate students (see photograph). The story of how Saadia Khan received Sir David’s letter can be read in full on the University of Northampton’s website.
All I can offer by way of my own tribute is to say thank you, Sir David, for continuing to be such an inspiration, and may you have many more birthdays to come.