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David Attenborough feels lucky to be 90

Press AssociationPress Association 1/05/2016

Sir David Attenborough has said he feels "unbelievably lucky" to be turning 90.

The naturalist and TV presenter will celebrate the milestone birthday on May 8.

Asked about how he feels about his 90th, he said: "The truthful answer is that I feel unbelievably lucky.

"I have friends, contemporaries, relatives, people who are my age, who can't walk about. I am unbelievably fortunate."

Sir David, who spent Saturday afternoon opening Woodberry Wetlands nature reserve in London to the public for the first time in almost 200 years, said access to the natural world is a "birthright" and should not be regarded as a luxury.

He said: "It's not a luxury this, you know. If it isn't there it's a great deprivation, and if it is there, it's what human beings deserve.

"We are part of it and if we lose contact with the natural world, you lose contact with a great source of pleasure and delight which is your birthright."

The 11-hectare wetlands in Stoke Newington are based around a working reservoir which has been closed to the public since it was built in 1833.

Sir David said the nature reserve was vital for children "above all".

He said it was important for young people "to see the seasons as they pass, to see not just asphalt and brick and concrete, but reeds and willows.

"To see birds coming up here from Africa, to hear above the hubbub of the traffic, to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher."

The naturalist's birthday will be marked by a special BBC One programme, Attenborough At 90, which sees tributes from everyone from the Duke of Cambridge to the Prime Minister.

The Duke of Cambridge said it is fitting that Sir David and the Queen are celebrating their 90th birthdays just weeks apart as both are "incredible national treasures".

He said: "There is something very calming and sort of warm about his programmes. There is something very reassuring about seeing David Attenborough on BBC One doing his documentaries. It is part of the national psyche now.

"He's a national treasure and it is very fitting that he is having his 90th birthday only a few weeks after the Queen. They are two incredible national treasures who have done so much over the years."

David Cameron wished Sir David a happy birthday on behalf of the country, and said he had grown up watching and learning from the broadcaster.

"Your lifelong service has created the most extraordinary educational legacy," he said.

"And even today you are pioneering the latest technologies.

"Britain is incredibly proud to have the greatest naturalist on the planet. For just as you treasure the world, so the world rightly treasures you."

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