TV stars make special appearance in Harrogate

Two television superstars enthralled audiences at the Royal Hall in Harrogate last weekend.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:20 am
Steve Backshall and Chris Packham met fans at the Royal Hall on Saturday.

Protest held as BBC's Chris Packham gives talk in HarrogateChris Packham and Steve Backshall gave separate talks, hosted by Cause UK and supported by The Wild Watch in Nidderdale AONB, a citizen science project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The adventurer, presenter, explorer and wildlife enthusiast, Steve Backshall, attracted a sell-out audience of all ages. Steve’s talk encompassed adventures from his new book Expedition: Adventures into Undiscovered Worlds.

The Royal Hall reported the book signing queue broke all records, with hundreds queuing down the corridor as he signed books and met fans for two hours after the talk.

Steve also gave a special presentation to the Wetherby Whalers Explorer Scout Unit, and talked about how being a scout opened his eyes to adventure and nature.

Steve Backshall said: “Having the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Harrogate offers a brilliant opportunity to get into the wild, climb rocks, canoe, go caving, bird watching, hiking, or star gazing. I hope to enthuse people of all ages to tap into their sense of adventure and awe in our natural world and discover the incredible life-affirming experiences our natural world and landscape offers. The more we engage with the natural world, the more we fall in love with it, the more we care for it.”

In the evening, Chris Packham gave a special talk with a Q&A session with The Wild Watch Patron and fellow-presenter, Lindsey Chapman.

Harrogate BID manager steps down from jobThe evening saw a protest outside the venue from the local shooting fraternity, chanting ‘Pack it in, Packham.’

Chris said: “There’s plenty of people who shoot in the UK sustainably and legally, but they’re not standing up against the bad apples in the driven grouse shooting fraternity.. It can be solved far easier from the inside if they sorted out their own problems. We’re asking for a ban on driven grouse shooting, that’s pretty draconian, but we wouldn’t be doing that if they sorted out all these people killing the hen harriers, and golden eagles, and kites.”

He also spoke candidly of his Asperger’s, saying nature, and walking his dogs in the woods, helped with his mental health.

He added: “It offers a real therapy, it’s not prescribed but it works."

Chris concluded that he felt optimistic about the future despite the loss of ’90 million birds from the UK countryside’.

“I’m going to fight the last stand,” he said. “I came into a world that was in a better state than it is now and I feel guilty and I feel a sense of shame for that. We’ve lost since 1970, 90 million birds from the UK countryside… gone on my watch. So I will work harder, as hard as I can, till the bitter end to try and make a difference.”

Clair Challenor-Chadwick, Director of Cause UK, said: “It was a huge honour for us to welcome Chris and Steve to Harrogate. Both inspire in different ways to help raise awareness of the climate crisis. We would like to thank the Wild Watch, Ecology Building Society and Waterstones in Harrogate, who hosted the epic book signings, and the team at the Royal Hall who handled the crowds and event with huge professionalism.”