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Westminster Abbey Celebrates the Life of The Lord Attenborough

Tuesday, 17th March 2015

Westminster Abbey Celebrates the Life of The Lord Attenborough

A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life and Work of The Lord Attenborough CBE was held at Westminster Abbey at Noon on Tuesday 17th March 2015.

Richard Attenborough, who died aged 90 in August 2014, was one of Britain's leading actors during the middle of the 20th century, before becoming a highly successful director.

His films as an actor included Brighton Rock, The Great Escape and Jurassic Park. As director he is best known for A Bridge Too Far, Gandhi, for which he won Academy Awards as director and producer in 1982, and Cry Freedom, about the death of South African anti-apartheid campaigner Steven Biko.

The Service was conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who said in his Bidding: 'We come to this holy place at the centre of our nation's life, where for over a thousand years kings and queens have been anointed and crowned, and where they and the greatest men and women of our history have been commemorated and buried. Here amongst them are remembered stars of stage and screen.

We come to celebrate the life and achievement of Richard Attenborough, a truly great man: certainly a star of stage and screen, but also a pioneer film-maker, and exemplary leader of his profession, a man of deep commitment, of great generosity of spirit, and of personal warmth.
'We shall give thanks to almighty God for him and pray for him a place of light and peace and eternal joyful surprise. We shall also pray that his story might continue to inspire and inform others to follow his example, that our world might become a little brighter and better.

The Address was given by The Lord Puttnam CBE.

Sir David Attenborough OM CH CVO CBE, brother, read from The Lord Attenborough's maiden speech to the House of Lords, and Sir Ben Kingsley and Geraldine James OBE, actors, read from The Writings of Gandhi.

Penelope Wilton OBE, actor, read 1 St John 4: 7-9, 11-12, 18, 20, and Tom Hiddleston, actor, read St Matthew 5: 1-10.

Unnati Dasgupta, soprano, sang Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram from Shri Nama Ramayanam.

Prayers were led by the Reverend Dr James Hawkey, Minor Canon and Precentor, and said by: Jaygann Ayeh, Tamara Lawrence, Caolan McCarthy and Rosie Sheehy, students, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and the Reverend Jane Sinclair, Canon Steward.

The service was sung by the Westminster Abbey Special Service Choir, conducted by James O'Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Daniel Cook, Sub-Organist. Martin Ford, Assistant Organist, played before the service.

Read The Order of Service

Lord Puttnam's Address

The biggest challenge we face is actually time – getting all our work done alongside the daily routine of the Abbey as a working church, visitor attraction and home to 1,000 years of history.

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