Sir David back at museum
Sir David Attenborough has returned to the museum that helped inspire his love of nature to reopen a dinosaur gallery.
Sir David toured New Walk Museum, in Leicester, yesterday afternoon to formally launch the new-look gallery after its £145,000 revamp.
He examined exhibits including Charnia, one of the oldest fossils of its kind in the world, and the imposing centrepiece of the gallery, the Rutland dinosaur.
The veteran broadcaster and naturalist said: "I'm delighted to be here.
"I was here a few years ago making a film about the Charnia fossil and this gallery was in preparation then.
"What's happened to it has been massive."
Sir David grew up on the campus of University College, Leicester – forerunner of the university – where his father Frederick was principal.
He spent much of his childhood scouring the Leicestershire countryside for fossils and also worked as a volunteer at the museum.
He said he owed a debt of gratitude to the museum.
Sir David said: "It was certainly a great help. I collected fossils and always came here to get them identified.
"I don't have any connections here any more but I owe Leicester, and this museum in particular, quite a lot, so I'm delighted that I was invited down today."
Mark Evans, senior curator at the gallery, has overseen the gallery's transformation, which had been 10 years in the making. He showed Sir David around
He said: "It's very exciting to see everyone's reactions and, hopefully, people think it was worth the wait. It's very gratifying to see things come together."
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby cut the ribbon to unveil the gallery.
He said: "What they've done is to transform it into something that's magic to children and, if this doesn't spark their interest, I don't know what will.
"What we've got to hope is this inspires the next generation of David Attenboroughs."
The launch was attended by about 150 children of pre-school and primary school age, and their parents.
Lesley Archdeacon, 44, from Evington, Leicester, regularly visits the gallery with her sons Lewis, 11, and Elliott, six.
She said: "It's a real asset to the museum. It has been closed for such a long time that they're very excited about seeing it open again.
"They do like their dinosaurs and have lots of little plastic ones at home."
Lewis said his favourite dinosaur was Tyrannosaurus rex.
He said: "They're big and scary. It's cool in here and I like the new stuff."
Steph Coleman, 38, from Western Park, and her four-year-old son Solomon enjoyed their visit.
She said: "It's fabulous and nice to see it open again.
"It's given them something else to look at in the museum because all the children love it."