Sir David Attenborough is my hero. Always has been. Always will be. If I could be like anybody, I’d want to be like David.
He is humble, well travelled, exceptionally knowledgeable about wildlife and conservation, is enthusiastic and motivated, so keen to learn, and the most engaging person on TV.
He was interviewed by Prince William on the 22nd January 2019. They chatted about the crisis facing conservation in the modern world, and Sir David said this:
“I don’t believe a child has yet been born who doesn’t look at the world around it with those fresh eyes and wonder.”
That resonated with me as we know that children see the world very differently, and that gives the world a fighting chance. This was reiterated to me recently, where every now and then you can have a new, temporary hero.
I was asked by my sister to help out at her twins’ school Mountain Bike race one recent Saturday morning. I was to be the sweep for the 10 km fun ride. “Not too hard” I thought, I’ll be back at the race village in no time at all!
Well all that changed immediately after we took off. Or rather the rest of the 30 riders took off, and we were left in their dust! We were riding at about walking pace. I had 2 young Grade 4 girls with me, and we were making slow progress. Slowly.
They were adjusting their seat height, trying to get on top of gear shifters, learning to use their brakes … we had travelled only about 400 meters and my stopwatch was on 10 minutes!! It’s going to be a long day I thought ….
And then the following conversation changed my whole mindset.
“Are you going to ride with us Sir?” they inquisitively inquired.
“Yes I am, I’m the sweep and it’s my job to ride at the back and make sure everyone is safe and gets to the finish.”
“Whew” they sighed “that’s a relief, ‘cos last year my friend’s chain came off and we don’t know how to put a chain back on!” and off they rode, little legs pumping down on the pedals.
“What’s your name?” they asked.
“My name is Lee” I replied.
“Uncle Lee, are you going to stop at the water table?”
“Yes I am.”
“Are you going to stay there a while?”
“Yes I am.”
“So are we” they beamed with excitement.
I was immediately so proud of them, and 15 minutes after meeting these 2, they were my heroes!
We pushed and pulled our way along. I had to do a bit of enticing and motivating now and again. They drank thirstily and regularly from my water bottle. We walked and rode and fell off, and eventually did get to the water table, at the 5 km halfway point. What a highlight – we ate and drank and chatted, and had an absolute blast!
Then we pushed on to the finish line, which despite being 5 km away, dominated conversation.
There was the usual “How far to go?” and “How much longer?” but the 2 friends decided that they should cross the finish line together, no matter what, and then I was allowed to follow behind.
The other races (including some serious riders doing 65 km, 45 km and 25 km), all congregated onto the track and we all shared the last 3 km of the route to the finish. Each and every rider who passed us (and there were about 100!) were waved along with a cheerful “Well done” from the 2 girls.
We did not bother, even in the slightest, that we were way at the back of our race. Seeing the racing snakes blitz by was another highlight of the morning.
We did make it to the finish line, and I did not even look at my stopwatch. We’d had a wonderful morning out and I learnt so much. I was truly humbled by the effort of the 2 girls, and their amazing attitude.
I wish we could all see the world through the eyes of our children more often. It made my day knowing that Tessa and Lulu had the best time ever on that Saturday morning.
I didn’t get a chance to tell them about David Attenborough, or that they had been my heroes for the morning, but I will never forget my 10 km with my 2 heroes!