Hawn tribute to 'incredible' Shand
Published 01/06/2015 | 11:56
Hollywood star Goldie Hawn has paid tribute to her "incredible" friend Mark Shand as she launched a fundraising campaign to continue his work helping endangered Asian elephants.
The Oscar-winning actress met Shand, the Duchess of Cornwall's brother who died unexpectedly in New York last year aged 62, while filming a documentary about the at-risk animals.
She said: "This is very, very important to me. We were incredible, beautiful friends. I miss him so much. I've been there for him in life and I'm going to be there for him in spirit."
Shand, a conservationist and travel writer, was dedicated to protecting the endangered Asian elephant. His rescue of Tara, whom he saved from the streets of eastern India and rode 600 miles to safety, led to his best-selling work Travels On My Elephant and the foundation of conservation charity Elephant Family.
The charity has commissioned a fleet of artist-designed rickshaws to ferry hotel guests around London before they take part in an epic race to India to raise up to £1 million for its work .
Hawn, whose Hollywood career includes hit movies Private Benjamin and The First Wives Club, said her own affection for the animals had an unlikely source - dating back almost quarter of a century to a photoshoot with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.
She said: "I had no idea what her theme was for the Vanity Fair article and in comes this elephant and she brings in a live elephant.
"She said, 'I want you to get on the elephant for the cover' so I said, 'I'm not getting on that elephant. I mean what if it just catapults me and decides it doesn't like me or something?'
"I said, 'Can you get on it first because I'm really frightened' so anyway she gets on it and it's fine, so I get on this prickly elephant with this circus costume on and I suddenly look in its eye, because I'm eye to eye with this elephant, and I tell you the look in this elephant's eye was so benevolent and so kind I knew there was no way I was going to be be hurt.
"I fell in love with the elephant right then."