Steve Backshall thanks parents over recognition for wildlife work

Steve Backshall has said he has his parents to thank for his MBE as they instilled a love of wildlife and conservation in him from a young age.

The nature conservationist and television presenter has been recognised in the New Year Honours for services to charity and wildlife conservation.

Backshall, known for hosting TV series including Deadly 60 and Blue Planet Live, told the PA news agency he was “very” emotional when he learned of the honour.

Animal Hero Awards 2019 – London
Helen Glover and Steve Backshall are expecting another baby (David Parry/PA)

He added: “More than anything, I’m thinking about what it will mean to my mum and dad. I know it will be hugely important to them.

“I really hope that I’ll get the chance to take them along with me, so they get to see the whole process. It’s going to be amazing.”

Backshall, 46, said: “My wife (Team GB rowing Olympic gold medallist) and I are very, very close to having our next baby and we’re all tied up in Christmas and everything, so I hadn’t thought about how I was going to tell my parents.

“But I guess once it goes public, I’ll just give them a bell and go, ‘Erm, have you seen the papers?’

“My mum and dad are both mad keen on the outdoors and nature. We grew up on a smallholding surrounded by rescue animals, both wild and domestic, and from a very young age that was my reality, that was my normal, and that’s all thanks to mum and dad.

“Everything I am now is very much down to them, so I owe them so, so much, and this would be a lovely way to show my gratitude, to take them along.”

Known for fronting an array of TV shows including children’s series The Really Wild Show, and for being part of expedition teams in Lost Land Of The Tiger, Lost Land Of The Volcano and Lost Land Of The Jaguar while working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, Backshall said he is encouraged to have been made an MBE for his services to charity.

He said: “Most of the stuff that I do in my job is quite public and you get judged publicly for it, but the stuff that I do with my charities is much less so, and to be recognised for that, it makes all the work very much worthwhile and just makes me want to go out and do more.”

Backshall supports several charities in the UK and overseas, including the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, which protects wildlife and enhances landscapes across the three counties, and the World Land Trust, an international conservation charity which protects biologically important and threatened habitats.

He is a president of the Young People’s Trust for the Environment, a charity that encourages understanding of nature, and a vice-president for invertebrate protection charity Buglife.

He is also an ambassador for the Scout Association.

Backshall, who won two Children’s TV Baftas in 2011 for his Deadly 60 series, including the Presenter prize, said he is “very lucky in that I’ve had the opportunity of spending most of my adult life working with both wild animals and in nature, but also with young people”.

Strictly Come Dancing 2014
BBC undated file handout photo of Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan during Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

“I get to see young people at their best, so I’m glad I’ve spent a lot of my adult life encouraging young people to get outside, to get involved in nature and in conservation, and that is now reaping its reward.”

An intrepid explorer with a passion for nature and wildlife, Backshall has spent much of his broadcasting career working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, and was the adventurer in residence at the National Geographic Channel for five years.

He also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2014, where he and partner Ola Jordan made it to the ninth week.

Backshall has written several wildlife books, including Looking For Adventure and Predators, and fiction books such as Tiger Wars and Ghosts Of The Forest.

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