Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

Updated 30 March 2013
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Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies

LONDON: British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for his roles as Harry Potter’s uncle and in the cult film “Withnail & I,” has died aged 65, his agent said yesterday.
The portly star of stage and screen, one of Britain’s best loved character actors, died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery, Simon Beresford said.
Griffiths will be forever remembered as Uncle Monty by fans of cult classic Withnail & I, although he reached his biggest audience as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the boy wizard in the blockbuster Potter series, led the tributes to a man he said had offered him “encouragement, tutelage and humor.”
The two men worked together on the Harry Potter films and later in the play Equus.
“Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him,” Radcliffe said in a statement.
Griffiths was born in 1947 in Yorkshire in northern England, the son of a steelworker. His parents were both deaf so he had to learn sign language at an early age.
He left school at 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss persuaded him to go back to education, to study drama.
He later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, excelling in playing the clown.
Early film credits included Chariots of Fire, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Gandhi, before he landed a starring role in the 1987 comedy Withnail & I.
Nicholas Hytner, the director of London’s National Theatre who directed Griffiths in one of his biggest stage hits, The History Boys, said he was “the life of every party.”
He recalled anecdotes that “would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting. The only way to stop them was to tell him you were walking away.”
Griffiths won a Tony and an Olivier award for his role as an inspirational teacher in The History Boys, and was nominated for a Bafta for best actor for the film version.


Meet the woman who reunites Syrian pets with their refugee owners

Updated 5 min 49 sec ago
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Meet the woman who reunites Syrian pets with their refugee owners

  • The woman has helped transport 400 cats and 15 dogs into Europe
  • The foundation was featured in a Netflix documentary called Dogs

A Syrian refugee in the Netherlands has revealed how she is helping reunite stranded pets in war-torn Syria with their owners abroad, London daily The Metro said Sunday.

Animals Syria is a non-profit foundation that helps save the lives of pets in Syria and reunites them with their owners overseas, and is run by Rawaa Kilani and her friend Irma.

Kilani said before she fled Syria in 2016, she found an injured cat, that she named Lucy, and nursed back to health.

After fleeing to the Netherlands, she was approached by a woman named Irma, who had an unusual request which inevitably led to the creation of the foundation, Animals Syria.

Irma said she wanted to adopt a paralyzed animal, and asked Kilani to let her take Lucy.

Since then, Kilani and Irma have enabled the transportation of 400 cats and 15 dogs to Europe, and another 44 dogs to the US. Animals Syria also rescued some birds, foxes, a monkey and even a donkey.

Kilani said people who are fleeing Syria are usually unable to take their pets with them, because most of them are escaping the war on boats. So, they entrust their loved ones with their pets or leave them at foster homes.

After the owners settle in their new asylums, Animals Syria helps reunite owners with their pets by organizing the medical procedures and documents required for the transportation. Kilani says the process of vaccinating, micro-chipping and preparing the paperwork might sometimes require up to four months.

Most of the work of the foundation is done by Kilani and Bashir, who is based in Syria. Two volunteers help Syria Animals by feeding strays in Syria and two of her friends provide foster homes while the trips are arranged.

The foundation even starred in a Netflix documentary, Dogs, showing how they helped a dog, Zeus, reunite with his owner in Germany.

Kilani’s foundation focuses on disabled animals now, as they have lower chances of surviving in Syria.

When they just started, most of the expenses were covered by Kilani and Irma. Now, the foundation relies on donations, which are usually small and insufficient.

Animals Syria have a Facebook page, where they post stories of rescued animals and offer links for donations.