University of Leicester opens book of condolences for Lord Attenborough

University Centre that bears his name honours Patron and supporter. A book of condolences for Lord Attenborough has been opened at the University of Leicester – the institution with which he had a lifelong association.

Lord Attenborough, who died aged 90, was raised with his brothers on the campus of the University of Leicester where his father, Frederick Attenborough, was the Principal of the University College –the forerunner to the University. Their former home, College House, is still located on the University site.

Lord Attenborough was a frequent visitor to the University and a supporter of the institution. In 1970 he became an honorary graduate and in 2006 he was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow – the highest award the University can bestow. You can watch a video of his response below:

He helped found the inclusive arts centre at the University of Leicester to which he gave his name.  Now housed in a dedicated building bearing his name, Embrace Arts is a multi-use inclusive arts centre, with a history of promotion and encouragement of engagement in the arts by people with disabilities. Open to all, its award-winning building houses a 120-seater performance area, three studios, and an exhibition gallery.  The centre was formally opened in 1997 by Diana, Princess of Wales, who was accompanied by Lord Attenborough.

Lord Attenborough’s son, Michael, is also an honorary graduate and supporter of the University of Leicester. Lord Attenborough’s brother, Sir David Attenborough, is also associated with the University of which he is both an honorary graduate and Distinguished Honorary Fellow. The University’s arboretum is named after Sir David while the University’s Attenborough Building is named after their father.

University of Leicester opens book of condolences for Lord Attenborough
Tributes have been paid to him and a dedicated site created last year to mark his 90th birthday provides a living record of people’s memories of him.  It can be accessed here:

The Richard Attenborough Centre has set up a dedicated site for tributes which can be accessed here
An online book of condolences can be accessed here (after Wednesday):

A physical book of condolences is also available for people to write tributes in the Richard Attenborough Centre, Lancaster Road, Leicester.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess paid tribute to a figure he described as ‘aspirational, inspiring and creative – a man with sheer energy and dynamism.’

Professor Burgess added: “He was a wonderful actor, a splendid director and a marvellous person who was always encouraging and supportive. He was a great contributor to many different aspects of society in a very effective way.”

Louisa Milburn, co-director of Embrace Arts, the University of Leicester arts centre housed in the Richard Attenborough Centre, said: “A long-time supporter of disability and the arts, Richard spearheaded the campaign that led to the opening of the Richard Attenborough Centre in 1997.

“The Centre's design won awards for its accessibility - at a time before legislation made this a requirement. The Richard Attenborough Centre continues to champion inclusivity through its engagement with disability audiences, artists and community groups and its involvement in the national arts and disability scene.

“Richard was passionate about access to high quality arts provision for everyone and Embrace Arts gives opportunities to engage, create and experience a wide variety of activity: from creative learning to a vibrant events programme - all housed in the Richard Attenborough Centre at the University of Leicester. 

“When I arrived at the University in 2005, Richard was one of the first people to contact me to congratulate me on my appointment. He continued to be a great supporter of the centre and a personal mentor, giving support and advice right up until he became ill.

“Richard was a great believer in creating positive change and was excited about the planned gallery extension at Embrace Arts due to open in 2015. His disability and the arts legacy will continue through our future programmes that will explore new ways to ensure the arts are accessible to all.”

Image: The Book of Condolences at the Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester. Credit: University of Leicester