Television legends Sir David Attenborough and Sir Trevor McDonald helped launch a new film to encourage Richmond Park visitors to ‘Tread Lightly’.
‘Richmond Park – National Nature Reserve’ took 10 months to shoot at the famous London recreational ground by director George Chan. It was launched at a special event at the Royal Geographic Society in London, sponsored by Thames Water, and premiered on television on April 26.
The park is home to an estimated 100,000 trees and thousands of species of animals and insects, making it a national nature reserve and site of special scientific interest.
However, the iconic grounds attract 5.5 million tourists from around the world every year, which leads to problems like littering and native animals being frightened. The film, commissioned by Friends of Richmond Park, was created to directly engage with those visitors to explain more about what lives inside the park and how people can help best protect it.
Sir David said: “Richmond Park is the largest of London’s Royal Parks but more than that, it’s London’s own special National Nature Reserve, with thousands of species of flora and fauna.
“But with 5.5 million visitors each year, the park is under more and more pressure. However, as visitors we can all help to protect it through simple actions so that it will remain a very special place for the enjoyment of future generations.”
Within the film is the enduring motto of ‘Tread Lightly’ which encourages people to be careful of how they walk through the park, particularly if they have dogs, and understand its rich natural life to minimise their impact on it.
One of the main themes is the little things everyone can do to help limit negative impact on the park. These include sticking to the designated paths, keeping dogs on leads unless in lead-free areas, to not to get too close to the animals when trying to take pictures, and to not leave anything or take anything away following a visit.
It is shot in Sir David’s signature Planet Earth style, with candid footage of the animals, including deer, and creatures during their normal lives plus spectacular aerial and slow-motion shots. Sir David is clearly passionate about the park’s future, and speaking to the Source, he praised Thames Water for backing the project.
He said: “I think it’s very important Thames Water, which has such an enormous responsibility in providing the water that is crucial to all forms of life in London, should help protect and improve the park, and I’m very pleased to see it is doing that.”
Ron Crompton, chairman of the Friends of Richmond Park, added: “We’re delighted Thames Water kindly sponsored the special premiere of our film. In our film we identify how important water is to Richmond Park, which contains more than 30 bodies of water including a flowing brook so there is a natural synergy with Thames Water.”
He added: “We're delighted Sir David agreed to present our film. He has lived near Richmond Park for more than 60 years and has used it as a place to walk, contemplate and enjoy the natural world. The park has inspired him and we wanted to make a high quality, visually beautiful film that would similarly inspire visitors to want to protect and conserve it.”
Sir Trevor McDonald, who compèred the event and held a question and answer session with Sir David, George Chan, Dougie Poynter, Richard Gray and Julian Glover, said he was pleased a company the size of Thames Water was backing the campaign, and said the film was “one of the most sensational films about parks I have ever seen”.
Speaking to the Source, he said: “It’s great the film mentions the brooks and the rivers of Richmond Park, and the incredible nature of them. I think it’s wonderful to have a company like Thames Water on board supporting the project to protect the park and all that it offers.”
Richard Aylard, director of external affairs at Thames Water, said: “As a company that’s responsible for large areas of land in London, we share Richmond Park’s enthusiasm for providing the public with access to wildlife and access to exciting open spaces.
“It’s something that we aspire to do at as many of our sites as we can, so the film launch is a very relevant event to sponsor, and we are delighted to do so.”
The park has legions of famous fans, and also attending the launch, as well as the 374 stakeholders and 250 school children, was Dougie Poynter, from McFly and former winner of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’, television presenter Loyd Grossman and Hollywood actor Julian Glover.
As well as the film screening, which Thames Water’s corporate responsibility team helped organise, the event included hands-on education sessions for primary and secondary school groups. To watch the film or for more information click here