South Shields artist Sheila Graber shares work and concerns for the environment with Sir David Attenborough

A much-loved South Tyneside artist has been sharing her work and passion for the environment and animals with Sir David Attenborough.

Sheila and Sir David are both keen advocates for the environment and animals.
Sheila and Sir David are both keen advocates for the environment and animals.

Sheila Graber, well known for her vast and varied creations, is also a keen advocate for the environment and animals.

She has long been an admirer of the conservation and environmental campaigning by Sir David, and decided to send the veteran broadcaster and natural historian a selection of her animations themed around the wonders of life on Planet Earth.

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She wrote to him: “Along with most people on Earth, I admire your amazing commitment to our planet and all life on it.

Sir David's letter to Sheila.

"As a small thank you I am sending you three very short films that I have made over the years on a USB, in the hope you will enjoy them.”

Sheila, now 82, was thrilled to get a handwritten response from her 96-year-old hero.

Sent from his home in Richmond, Surrey, Sir David replied: “Thank you for sending the USB of your work, I very much look forward to viewing it.”

Sheila, who won a lifetime achievement award at the Best of South Tyneside Awards in April, said: “I bet it’s not often Sir David writes ‘South Shields’!”

Lifetime Achievment Award winner Sheila Graber at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2021.

The animations Sheila sent to Sir David were Evolution, which she made in 1980, Leonardo Da Vinci, which she made in 1985, and Ghost Light, which she made in 2020, inspired by the pandemic single written by her friend, South Tyneside singer-songwriter Jen Stevens.

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“When I heard it I immediately felt it reflected the plight of animals trapped in factory farms and created the animation that day,” she wrote to Sir David.

"I had wanted to make a statement about this for years but never been strong enough to draw the heartbreaking images needed… her music pulled me through.

"My hope is when people see/hear this they will fight for change…. As you do.”

Sir David Attenborough.
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Sir David’s vast catalogue of work spanning eight decades includes Natural World, Wildlife on One, and the Planet Earth franchise and Blue Planet series.

His work at first focused more on the wonders of the natural world before developing more into support for environmental causes.

Sir David is a champion of renewable energy, ending plastic pollution, restoring biodiversity, fighting climate change and reducing meat consumption.