Richard Attenborough

26th January, 2015

I was sorting through some photographs the other day, and found some of Richard Attenborough. A couple of which I have posted here, as a memorial to a great man and a good friend who died on 24th August last year.

I first met Richard Attenborough in 1996 when he came to Ibstock with my good friend the late David Taylor MP. We were campaigning in the 1997 General Election. It was quite an occasion driving down Ibstock High Street in Richard’s green Rolls Royce with vote Labour stickers in the windows! Richard brought his special magic to that day, something that I was to experience many times again over the succeeding years. It worked. David was elected in that most memorable of all elections that saw Labour come to power in a landslide victory.

I became Leader of the City Council in May 1999 and I was to meet Richard and David again that year. It was the 150th anniversary of New Walk Museum and Welford Rd Cemetery.

It was a beautiful summer’s day which started with the burying of a time capsule at Welford Road Cemetery. Then in an early Corporation double decker bus we followed the route that the Mayor took in 1849 from the City rooms. So slow was the bus that some of us got off to lighten to load, so it could get up the hill. 

The Lord Mayor Cllr Phil Swift opened the celebrations and joined us on the faster journey down the hill to New Walk Museum. We spent the rest of the day touring the City’s museums including the beautiful gardens at Belgrave Hall (which were then freely open to the public)


During this visit began the long discussions about the future of Richard and Sheila’s collection of Picasso ceramics. I remember taking tea in the Lord Mayor’s parlour and Richard turning to me and saying “Ross, when I fall off the twig would the council take a few of the ceramics that we have collected over the years”. What followed was nearly 10 years of work culminating in the most celebrated exhibition ever at the New Walk Museum of the very fine collection of Picasso ceramics, which we opened in 2007.

Picasso Ceramics

Picasso Ceramics


Richard told me how his children used to play with the piece we were looking at in the photo! Sheila was amazed at how wonderful they all looked when lit in the special display cases. She was just used to seeing them around the house.

It was always joyous to work with Richard and we all looked forward to his visits. His great charm, humour and genuine interest in those around him was infectious and made every occasion special. I loved listening to his wonderful stories about Hollywood legends, which he would just drop into.

Over the years we became friends and he was one of the most special people I have ever known. He had a certain magic.  I miss him greatly.





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