He has Longleat House and a 9,000- acre estate at his disposal. But Ceawlin Thynn, Marquess of Bath, is finishing the year as he began it — with his attention on the plight of imperilled wildlife on the far side of the planet.
He has just sent £50,000 to conservation programmes dedicated to aiding Australia’s koala population, tens of thousands of which perished in bushfires which swept through an area more than four times the size of Wales.
‘This year has been an incredibly challenging one for all of us,’ reflects Ceawlin, who succeeded as 8th Marquess on his father’s death from coronavirus in April and managed to re-open Longleat to the public just two months later, with requisite social distancing measures in place.
Ceawlin Thynn has just sent £50,000 to conservation programmes dedicated to aiding Australia’s koala population (pictured with wife Emma)
‘But, for all the many challenges we’re currently facing, it’s crucial to show our support.’
The fires were still burning when, in January this year, two keepers who care for Longleat’s southern koalas flew out to Australia to aid the rescue operation, tending to koalas suffering from burns and monitoring other survivors.
None of that could have been envisaged in 2018 when Ceawlin and his wife, Strictly star Emma, set up a pioneering project at Longleat, which became home to five southern koalas — the first zoological collection in Europe with the marsupials — as part of a long-term partnership with the South Australia government.
None of that could have been envisaged in 2018 when Ceawlin and his wife, Strictly star Emma, (pictured together) set up a pioneering project at Longleat, which became home to five southern koalas as part of a long-term partnership with the South Australia government
Three tigers try to get to grips with a massive Christmas present on a spring as part the festive fun at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire
To the marquess’s delight, Longleat’s visitors have taken the koalas to their hearts. ‘Thousands have contributed to this appeal,’ he tells me, adding that Longleat’s specially created JustGiving page helped raise more than £28,000. ‘Their generosity will have a direct impact. It’s a real cause for celebration.’
At the same time, he assures me there’s no chance that he’ll be neglecting Longleat, which has 365 timber windows and three-quarters of an acre of roof.
‘We’ve had to rebuild the East Terrace. The balustrade was leaning at angle of about ten degrees — in the direction of a public walkway.’ But the Lodge Gates, he concedes, still need attention. ‘We’d just had them restored and repainted. Then a lorry drove into them.’
Tatt’ll do nicely for Ewan’s daughter…
Trainspotting star Ewan McGregor launched his career as soon as he left school at 16, and now his daughter, Esther, is proving just as industrious.
The 19-year-old, whose mother is Ewan’s estranged wife, Eve Mavrakis, has set up a tattoo parlour in LA following her graduation from high school this summer.
Claiming she needs the extra cash ‘to buy Christmas presents’, Esther is sticking to safety regulations by asking her clients to get tested for coronavirus beforehand.
‘I do them outside safely,’ she adds. She already has the stamp of approval from her Scottish-born father, who let her tattoo a tartan scarf on his arm earlier this year.
The importance of gratitude is not lost on the Duke of Kent’s granddaughter, Lady Amelia Windsor.
‘My friend recently gave me a Five-Minute Journal which I accepted gratefully but secretly never thought I’d use,’ admits the model, 25. ‘Little did I know I would look forward to it first thing in the morning with my coffee. I write down what I’m grateful for and what would make the day great.’
She adds: ‘The evening is a chance to reflect on the wonderful things that happened that day which could simply be making a delicious meal or going for a walk. It makes you appreciate the little things.’
Oops! Edward’s Prince Awkward in his dad jeans
It’s the Christmas contagion — not a coronavirus mutation, but the decidedly casual style adopted by a slew of copycat royals for their festive cards.
First the Duchess of Cornwall, then Wills and Kate, and now the Earl of Wessex — all have sported jeans.
First the Duchess of Cornwall, then Wills and Kate, and now the Earl of Wessex — all have sported jeans
But whereas there was an authenticity to those favoured by Camilla — snapped alongside Charles — and by Wills and Kate, who were pictured with George, Charlotte and Louis, those worn by Edward defy immediate categorisation.
They’ve undoubtedly seen some use, judging by the tramlines — an inch or so apart — above the royal ankles. Perhaps Edward wore them with turn-ups when he was at school at Gordonstoun?
Mark Rylance tribute to ‘dear friend’ Johnny Depp
Oscar-winner Sir Mark Rylance has spoken out in defence of Johnny Depp — with whom he stars in the new film, Waiting For The Barbarians — after a UK court ruled the actor had abused his then-wife, Amber Heard.
‘I had a lovely time working with Johnny. He has become a dear friend,’ says Rylance, 60.
‘The thing with Johnny is that many people have many views about him at the moment. He’s a very complex character who’s had a very, very extraordinary life, and he brings that life where he is.’
He adds: ‘What Johnny also brought was an enormous stillness and inner quality. He has a rich inner life.
‘When you’re a very, very vulnerable person, it makes it OK to be vulnerable when you’re acting in scenes. I learned a lot from him.’
The Office star Ricky Gervais admits he could never lose his temper the way Tom Cruise did last week when his crew members weren’t socially distancing on the London set of Mission: Impossible 7.
‘I want it to be a really happy set, and that sort of ruins it, because I’ve got to be funny,’ he says. ‘So if I lose my temper, I’ve then got to be funny, and that’s really hard. Do you know what I mean? So I try not to ever do that. I don’t want to embarrass anyone or have bad blood.’
Darling baby Clementine for SamCam’s brother and his girl
Fashion designer Samantha Cameron and her husband, former prime minister David, are ending the year on a high note.
For I can reveal her half-brother, Robert Sheffield, has become a father after his model girlfriend, Ellen Francis Gibbons, 28, gave birth to daughter Clementine, 8lb, at York Hospital.
Robert Sheffield, has become a father after his model girlfriend, Ellen Francis Gibbons, 28, (pictured) gave birth to daughter Clementine, 8lb, at York Hospital
‘Both mother and baby are doing well and back home at Sutton Park,’ former art agent Rob, 36, tells me, referring to his family’s country estate in North Yorkshire which he took over from his father, Sir Reginald Sheffield, last year.
‘Ellen and I are delighted — best Christmas present we’ve ever had. The amazing midwives at York Hospital were truly incredible.’