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David Shepherd

David Shepherd receives the 2006 Simon Combes Conservation Award
2006

 

On June 4, 2006, the AFC made its first presentation of the recently created Simon Combes Conservation Award at the Hiram Blauvelt Museum in Oradell New Jersey to member David Shepherd, who flew in from the U.K. for the event. A gala evening and dinner at the Museum preceded the presentation. The event coincided with an ongoing exhibition at the Museum: 'Art & Beyond: The Art & Adventures of Simon Combes' – a retrospective on the artwork of deceased AFC member, Simon Combes, in whose name the award was created.

Marijane Singer, Director of the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum orchestrated a first-class event, which included numerous AFC members and The Combes family from Kenya. It was a top-notch celebration and the AFC was proud to have played a major role in its success.

David Shepherd was a loyal friend to Simon and he was extremely honoured to be the first recipient of the award. Sculptor Peter Gray of South Africa created the magnificent trophy sculpture, which has become the award's symbol. Shepherd had this to say: 'I love wildebeests. I adore them – how lovely and how clever. I'm very touched.'

The AFC received much praise and support for both the creation of the award as well as its overall mission. 

Speeches by AFC President, Jeffrey Whiting, David Shepherd, and Kat Combes, Simon's wife, highlighted the ceremony.

Impressed upon the over 200 people in attendance, was that concern for the environment is on everyone's agenda today and if what remains of our biodiversity is to be shared with future generations, then a great deal needs to be done. The event provided an excellent opportunity to reiterate to the attendees, that while AFC supports artists worldwide, an essential part of its mission is to also bring public attention to the conservation organizations and the work they do in support of biodiversity and sustainability. Two of the AFC's key programs were highlighted as leading examples of the role of art in conservation today: the AFC Flag Expeditions and the AFC Art for Conservation Program.

David accepted the Simon Combes Conservation Award in the presence of Simon's wife, Kat Combes and Simon's children Cindy and Guy. It was a moving tribute to a passionate conservationist, a brilliant communicator, a prolific writer, a world traveler, a respected artist, a loving husband and a devoted father, and one who 'never gathered moss.' David gave a passionate talk about his experiences in combating poaching around the world through the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. He provided his audiences with a combination of shocking and entertaining anecdotes to illustrate the challenges we are faced with as well as some of the victories that have been had in preserving wildlife. 

Pursuant to David's speech, Jeffrey presented a cheque for $500 U.S. from the AFC, to Kat Combes, for the Rhino Rescue Trust, of which Simon was Director, to aid in its anti-poaching activities. The Kenya Chapter of the organization is now headed by Kat and is in a fundraising drive to raise $800,000 to rebuild rhino-and-poacher-proof electric fencing around Lake Nakuru National Park. The park is a world-class haven for endangered species such as the Black Rhino.

 

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