Tributes paid to Lord Attenborough of Richmond, who died this weekend, aged 90

Richard Attenborough: Helped the arts immensely

Support: Councillor Samuel said Lord Attenborough's presence gave great weight to events

First published in News Surrey Comet: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

British cinema legend and Baron of Richmond Lord Richard Attenborough died this weekend, just five days before his 91st birthday.

Actor and director Richard Attenborough, famously known for appearing in and directing an array of films, most famously directing Gandhi in 1982, died at lunchtime on Sunday, August 24.

Lord Attenborough lived at Old Friars, near Richmond Green, until early 2012 when he joined his wife Sheila Sim in a home for the care of elderly actors in west London.

In early 2013, Lord Attenborough sold his Richmond home and attached offices, Beaver Lodge, for about £11.5m. He was also heavily involved in the arts locally, most notably as a patron of the Orange Tree Theatre.

Lord Attenborough was given a knighthood in 1976 and in 1993 became a life peer as Baron Attenborough of Richmond.

In 2007, at the age of 83, Lord Attenborough was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Kingston University.

Paying tribute, Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader of Richmond Council, said Lord Attenborough became involved in promoting theatre and the arts in schools in the borough many years ago.

Coun Samuel said: "I asked him to open the first Dramatic Edge and he came and was wonderful on the occasion. His personality really let the event have a high profile.

"He was a person who was part of our community; I pay tribute to him.

"Through his wife he was actively involved in the affairs of the bench. We mourn the loss of a great actor, director and local resident."

Along with being a hugely successful actor and director for many years, Lord Attenborough was also patron of the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, and, with his wife, gave his support to the building of the new theatre.

Sam Walters, artistic director of the Orange Tree Theatre from 1971 to June 2014, said: "His death is a loss to all who were privileged to know him and indeed a loss to the world.

"When in 1988 Richard and Sheila agreed to give their support to the building of the new Orange Tree Theatre we knew we had gained the most important figureheads for our cause.

"What we had not anticipated was that we had as well gained true and loyal friends whose sheer hard work, energy and commitment was quite remarkable.

"The time they devoted in their hugely busy lives to supporting the theatre and raising the necessary funds was enormous - to say nothing of their considerable personal generosity. We could not have done it without them and they made it fun too.

"The Orange Tree Theatre will remain endlessly indebted to Richard and Sheila for their unconditional support over so many years.

"Unlike many an Englishman, Richard wore his heart on his sleeve and his care, concern and enthusiasm were there for all to see. And I loved him for it."

Current artistic director of the Orange Tree Theatre, Paul Miller, also paid tribute to Lord Attenborough, calling him "inspirational" and said the theatre owed him "an enormous debt of gratitude".

Lord Attenborough is survived by his wife Sheila, his son Michael and daughter Charlotte.

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