Sir David Attenborough helps Yorkshire Wildlife Trust celebrate its 70th anniversary

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s CEO Dr Rob Stoneman describes a new threat to Askham Bog, exactly 70 year

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s CEO Dr Rob Stoneman describes a new threat to Askham Bog, exactly 70 years since it was first secured for protection from development - Credit: Tom Marshall

Iconic broadcaster makes an impassioned plea for the future of Wildlife Trusts

There was a warm welcome for the world’s most famous naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, as he spent a day with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

The broadcaster, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year, showed his characteristic youthful enthusiasm as he met staff from the conservation charity at York’s Quaker Meeting House. After quizzing members of the team on a specially curated collection of wildlife artefacts, Sir David shared in the Trust’s official cake cutting and received a specially woven picnic blanket made exclusively from the charity’s grazing flock of Hebridean sheep.

Sir David also joined local experts for a walk around Askham Bog just south of the city, where he met conservation trainees and walked among rarities including six foot high Royal Ferns. With the site’s fragile environment expected to be under threat from development plans in the months ahead, Sir David spoke about the need to cherish such locations.

‘There would be an outcry if someone proposed to put a building site next to York Minster,’ he said. ‘For naturalists, that’s what this site is like. This is a treasure that is irreplaceable. The citizens of York are lucky to have it on their doorstep and it is their responsibility to look after it.’

In the evening, more than 1,100 members of the public were captivated by a rousing address at the University of York, followed by a Q&A with Trust president Sir John Lawton, including tales of gorillas and being charged by elephants. Sir David also made an impassioned speech on the importance of engaging the younger generation with the joys of the natural world, before leaving the stage to a standing ovation. The fundraising event raised more than £15,000 for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s new urban doorstep visitor centre at Potteric Carr in Doncaster. w