Richard Attenborough spent his last six years 'barely able to speak' after stroke, says his son: 'He was obviously not the same man'

The actor and director, who passed away on Sunday (24 August), badly injured himself after a fall at home in 2008

Richard Attenborough was "barely" able to communicate with his family and friends after an accident left him confined to a wheelchair and in hospital for 18 months.

The actor and director, who passed away on Sunday (24 August), badly injured himself after a fall at home following a stroke in 2008.

He was moved with his wife, Sheila Sim, into a care home in 2012, but the family had never previously discussed the full extent of his ill health.

Speaking about the struggles his late father experienced during his final six years of life, his son Michael Attenborough, a theatre director, told The Mirror: "He was quite simply my hero; my supporter, my counsellor, my friend.

Video: Richard Attenborough dies at the age of 90  

"He changed hugely when he had his accident. He hit his head very badly and I have no idea how he survived.

 

"When he emerged after 18 months in hospital, he was obviously not the same man.

"He couldn’t read and write. The two things it was terrible to take away from my dad were his activity and articulation.

"He could get the odd word out but it was impossible to say sentences.

"He could say my name and that was it. When he first came out of hospital he seemed hugely frustrated but in the last 18 months he was much more resigned."

He went on to confirm that a private funeral would be held by the family next week. A larger memorial service for friends and fans is set to take place in November.

"We want it to be an entirely private affair," he continued. "But in November, there’ll be a memorial service for everyone."

Michael’s focus now, he said, is insuring the family spend as much time with his mother Sheila as possible.

"They spent 74 years together. That’s several other people’s two or three lifetimes."

 

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