Often the word 'legend' is mistakenly applied to people who make a massive contribution in one field or another during their lifetime, but when used to describe the impact of the late Sir Richard ("Dickie") Attenborough on the world of #Film and dramatic art, it seems entirely appropriate and fitting. With that in mind, a stellar cast of stars were in attendance earlier today to celebrate his life and career at Westminster Abbey, in the centre of London, for a service of thanksgiving.
The world of film, television, theatre and politics were all well represented at the service, held in honour of the great British actor, director, and film producer who tragically passed away last August at the grand old age of 90. His younger brother, (Sir) David, the famous naturalist and wildlife programme presenter led the tributes, with Sir Ben Kingsley and Lord Puttnam also reading during the service. With a guest list of such high calibre in attendance, it almost made one think that everyone at the memorial possessed some title or another, with Sir Michael Caine, Sir John Hurt, Sir Kenneth Branagh and (not forgetting the ladies) Dame Judi Dench all among the congregation paying their respects.
The ceremony itself did not extend beyond the hour mark, with Sir David regaling the gathered guests and causing a chuckle or two among them, when he recounted lines from one of his brother's previous addresses, where he began by saying "I have it on the best authority - from a not too distant relative - that we are related to apes". His brother also ensured that Lord Attenborough's firm belief in the arts being for everyone to enjoy and participate in, was included in his message to those in the abbey.
The dean of Westminster, the Very Rev Dr John Hall opened the service, with his words no doubt encapsulating the thoughts of many who attended when he referred to "a star of stage and screen, but also a pioneer film-maker, an exemplary leader of his profession, a man of deep commitment, of great generosity of spirit, and of personal warmth."
His beloved Chelsea FC were also represented, with their former star player Gianfranco Zola attending, besides other familiar names and faces from television, sport and the acting world of course.
After the service, several of the stars gathered said how much they had enjoyed it and also believed that the late man himself would have thought it entirely fitting as well.
A staunch supporter of creative art, Sir Richard led a group of like-minded people to Downing Street in the early 1990s to discuss the topic with the Prime Minister of the time, Margaret Thatcher. His speeches often included a reference or two designed to stimulate discussion and encourage the funding of the arts.
In an amazing career, he starred in such fantastic films as Brighton Rock, The Great Escape, 10 Rillington Place and the blockbuster Jurassic Park, demonstrating both his great acting ability and versatility. His great labour of love, the film Gandhi, scooped him personally two Academy Awards as the producer and director, and an amazing 8 Oscars in total, besides making a star of Ben Kingsley as a result in the leading role.
A devoted family man, he married the actress Sheila Sim in 1945 and they were still together at his death in 2014. Their daughter and one of their grandchildren were tragically taken from them in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, that took so many lives and destroyed many other people's livelihoods. #Celebrities