SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Viscountess sends team to help save koalas

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Viscountess Weymouth and her husband send team from Longleat to Australia to help save koalas caught up in raging bushfires

Viscountess Emma Weymouth is pictured with a koala, above. Longleat has sent two specialist keepers Down Under to help with the wildlife rescue operation

Viscountess Weymouth won over Strictly Come Dancing viewers with her tireless efforts to perfect her tango.

Now, she is channelling her energy into trying to save animals caught up in the devastating bushfires across Australia.

Emma’s husband, Viscount Weymouth, runs his family’s 9,000-acre estate in Wiltshire, Longleat, whose Wildlife and Safari Park is the only zoological collection in Europe to look after southern koalas.

With the encouragement of Emma (pictured) and her husband, Ceawlin, Longleat has sent two specialist keepers Down Under to help with the wildlife rescue operation. They have experience of working with koalas and wombats. 

‘It’s been hard emotionally watching our friends and colleagues out there losing animals,’ said Longleat’s Head of Animal Adventure, Graeme Dick, before he set off.

‘We have been in regular contact with our colleagues throughout this devastating natural disaster and have been watching with horror as the true extent of the damage and loss has become clear.

‘The Australian authorities estimate that 30 per cent of the koala population has been wiped out already.’

Longleat has a long-term partnership with the South Australia Government and Cleland Wildlife Park, in the Adelaide Hills, to support research and conservation programmes for wild koalas.

Viscountess Weymouth won over Strictly Come Dancing viewers with her tireless efforts to perfect her tango. Now, she is channelling her energy into trying to save animals caught up in the devastating bushfires across Australia

‘Although we’re by no means experts in bushfires and burns victims, we know about koalas and we know about the feeding and what a koala needs,’ says Dick.

The team was flown out free of charge by Singapore Airlines. In addition to practical help and support with the rescue programme, the team took a Longleat donation of $25,000 Australian dollars [£13,000] to help fund work being undertaken by three local rescue groups.

It has been estimated that close to 500 million animals have been killed in the New South Wales bushfires alone since September.

Emma, who is about to start the Strictly theatre tour, was delighted when Longleat opened a new attraction called Koala Creek last year. It’s a pioneering conservation project aimed at protecting the survival of the species.

A kiss for the really sparkling Lady Kitty

When the Daily Mail Diary recently disclosed that Lady Kitty Spencer had got engaged to a fashion tycoon nearly 32 years her senior, the couple declined to comment. 

There was, however, no mistaking the huge sparkler on her ring finger as the society model enjoyed a day out with her South Africa-born fiance, Michael Lewis, in Cape Town at the weekend.

Princess Diana’s 29-year-old niece flashed the emerald-cut band (inset), worth around £150,000, as she kissed Lewis, who has a reputed fortune of £80 million. 

He turns 61 later this month and has three adult children with his ex-wife, Leola, who signed a prenuptial agreement. It’s not yet known if Lady Kitty will do the same.

Lewis is five years older than Lady Kitty’s father, Earl Spencer.

The society model enjoyed a day out with her South Africa-born fiance, Michael Lewis, in Cape Town at the weekend


When the Daily Mail Diary recently disclosed that Lady Kitty Spencer had got engaged to a fashion tycoon nearly 32 years her senior, the couple declined to comment. There was, however, no mistaking the huge sparkler on her ring finger, seen right

Cora Corre hasn’t modelled for the punk designer since 2014 — the year before turning down a prime spot in her fashion show

Cora’s back for Granny Viv

Dame Vivienne Westwood’s granddaughter Cora Corre hasn’t modelled for the punk designer since 2014 — the year before turning down a prime spot in her fashion show.

Despite admitting at the time she was ‘disappointed’ in Cora for going skiing with her mother instead, Dame Vivienne has proved there are no hard feelings by picking the 22-year-old to model her bespoke red dress on the cover of Country & Townhouse magazine’s new ‘Great British Brands’ issue.

When the daughter of Agent Provocateur co-founders Joe Corre and Serena Rees first snubbed her grandmother, Dame Vivienne said: ‘I think she is wasting her opportunity. She should use me.’

National treasure Sir David Attenborough made no pretence of being an art expert when he opened a new exhibition of artist J.M.W. Turner’s oil sketches at Turner’s House museum in Twickenham. 

On being asked about ‘the relevance of Turner’s paintings today’, the modest 93-year-old broadcaster and wildlife expert chuckled: ‘I’m afraid I’m not an authority on the matter, but if you want to know more about bunny rabbits I’m your man.’ 

Joanna Lumley may be perennially absolutely fabulous but she hates the sight of herself on screen.

She says: ‘Even now in front of the camera, you think: ‘Why am I doing this?’ And they say: ‘Would you like to see the rushes?’ ‘No, don’t show me!’

‘Quite a lot of films I’m in, I never go and see them for fear of looking up at the screen and seeing yourself, usually acting very badly.’ Too modest, surely.

We Need To Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver claims books should be made more readable in order to compete with today’s television shows. 

‘It’s so much easier to sit in front of the TV that, at this stage in the game, it’s probably a good idea to make reading as easy as possible,’ she declares. 

‘I’m not big on obfuscation. I’ve become very impatient with fiction that makes the reader’s life difficult.’

I hear BBC presenter Tess Daly has seen the value of the business she runs with her husband Vernon Kay shoot up to more than £800,000 last year

Keeeeep earning, Tess

Strictly coining it in! I hear BBC presenter Tess Daly has seen the value of the business she runs with her husband Vernon Kay shoot up to more than £800,000 last year.

It meant the television duo were able to pay themselves £180,000 between them — up from just £40,000 the year before — in dividend payments. 

That’s separate from her Strictly Come Dancing pay of £150,000 per series, and her other BBC work. 

The figures are detailed in newly published accounts for the broadcasting company she and Kay co-own, 21 TV Ltd.

Tess closed her own business, Sugarstep Productions, nearly four years ago, enjoying a £2.2 millon pay-out in the process, as the BBC clamped down on paying stars through private companies.

The Crown star Victoria Hamilton plays chief of staff to Robert Carlyle’s Tory PM in Sky’s new drama, Cobra. 

Is her steely strategist based on anyone we know? 

‘She’s the anti-Dominic Cummings,’ says Victoria. Cobra has the inside track on Westminster machinations, she says. 

‘When you see that group together in the Cabinet, the hatred between people who are sitting around the same table, apparently representing the same government line, is astonishing.’

Perish the thought!

Hunk Chatto in oarsome adventure

Arthur Chatto, 20, is to row round the coast of Britain in a four-man team in June to raise funds for Just One Ocean

Princess Margaret’s hunky grandson Arthur Chatto, 20, is to row round the coast of Britain in a four-man team in June to raise funds for Just One Ocean, a charity committed to clearing up our seas.

‘We will be rowing two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day, for approximately 30 days,’ says Lady Sarah Chatto’s son, a third-year geography student at Edinburgh University. 

Perils of the voyage include storms, capsizing, weight loss, dehydration and sleep deprivation as they navigate 2,000 miles of open water. 

‘Past events have seen just a 25 per cent success rate, with only four boats ever completing the challenge,’ he adds. 

‘That’s how hard this is.’

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