Lee Durrell was honored by the RZSS as one of their Tribal Elders last night, giving me the opportunity to see one of my childhood heroes speak up close and in person. I grew up on Gerald Durrell’s books and the tv shows he and Lee produced. Their stories inspired me to care about the natural world.
Lee emphasised the importance of conservationists becoming good communicators. She talked about being clear and concise. She talked about the beauty of Gerald’s writing and the impact of his books. She didn’t specifically mention storytelling, but her entire presentation powerfully wove together Lee’s life story with the story of our wounded world.
One of the most basic definitions of a story is that it is told in the present by drawing on past events with some desired future in mind. Despite the dire statistics she shared, Lee’s story was told towards a hopeful future. The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’s mission is “saving species from extinction”, and they are very good at what they do. They take on cases that everyone else has given up on, bringing species back from the brink of extinction. Lee Durrell knows first hand that species can be saved.
The stories Lee told last night have inspired me to be hopeful too. In Lee’s words, we should “never hesitate to be inspired”.