|Lord Richard Attenborough|
Source: The Times UK
Back in my late teens in Southern Africa, my classmates and I had a rare opportunity. We had the chance to meet and interact with the director Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila for at least an hour. He was a patron of our school which had a long history of a strong stance against apartheid South Africa. He was visiting the school for a meeting of the school board. In hindsight, we did not use our time well. Here we were given the opportunity to talk with the director of the iconic masterpieces Gandhi and Cry Freedom but all we wanted to talk about were seemingly petty school politics. Lord Attenborough was patient with us. He listened to our concerns and assured us that he would express our concerns to the powers that be. Nearing the end of the interaction he asked humorously "So there are no questions about movies?!!". The whole room erupted with laughter. If I had not been so shy, I might have had the courage to tell him that 'Gandhi' was the very first VHS tape that went into our freshly purchased VCR way back in the early 1980s. Of course I never did have the guts to say that but I did get an autograph from both him and his wife.
Thinking back, this was my first interaction with anything close to Hollywood movie-making glamour. Both Lord Attenborough and his wife did not fit the Hollywood stereotype. They were both warm, kind, down to earth, patient, wonderful people who seemed very much in love after decades of marriage. It was with a heavy heart therefore that I heard of Baron Attenborough's passing this morning. My thoughts are with his wife Sheila and the rest of his family at this difficult time. In the obituaries and chronicles of his life, may he also be remembered for his brave and strong stance against apartheid.
Lord Attenborough, you touched many more lives than you may have imagined; Rest in Peace.