Councillor’s tribute to a ‘true gentleman’ director

Lord Attenborough
Lord Attenborough

A councillor has paid tribute to actor and director Richard Attenborough, who died on Sunday, aged 90.

Councillor Phil Scott met the legend on October 2000 when he visited Hastings for the premiere of the film,

The movie is the story of Hastings man Archie Belaney, who was born in 1888 and raised in the town but who went to live in Canada as a native Indian under the name Grey Owl.

Cllr Scott was Deputy Mayor at the time of Lord Attenborough’s visit in 2000.

He said: “I was able to share some time with Lord Attenborough and watch with him his story about a man who was probably the world’s first eco-warrior.

“It was a story that had captured the imagination of not only Richard as a child but also of his younger brother David Attenborough.

“The honour of introducing Richard at the regional film premiere of

“I had actually already been to Sussex University some time before to see the Brighton premiere of the film where of course at that time Richard was the university’s chancellor.

“The film

“Richard himself had insisted that some of the filming took place here in Hastings, it had meant that local extras were used and that the inhabitants of Milward Road (where Grey Owl’s two aunts had lived) had close contact with the star of the film Pierce Brosnan.

“Victoria Williams, museum curator at the time and Kevin Boorman, the council’s marketing manager, were also very involved with Richard and Twentieth Century Fox in ensuring that one of the regional film premieres took place here in Hastings at the Odeon Cinema.”

Cllr Scott said there were two showings of

He added: “In terms of introducing Richard at the film premiere it was probably the most nervous I had ever been in terms of public speaking.

“Here was this legendary film actor, producer and director standing before me listening to me say a few words about him and this latest blockbuster film.

“But I needn’t have worried, he was quietly spoken, he was charming, quite a humble man really, a true gentleman, he smiled continually and was very clearly enjoying the moment as I indeed was.

“When he had to leave he spent some considerable time speaking with local people outside the cinema much to their delight.”