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I would like to say thank you on behalf of the RGS SW Regional Committee and all the audience for your tour de force. We all marvelled at your beautiful pictures and were most impressed by your recall of so many facts and figures to do with Madagascar, its geography and wildlife. I have spoken to several of those who attended and they were all most complimentary.

Jevan Berrange, Royal Geographical Society, SW Region

Wow! What a morning treat you gave to the Torquay Natural History Society. Alaska is certainly a beautiful place and so enhanced by its wonderful wildlife – bears, seals and the whales. What superb photographs with some wonderful lighting effects and so well coordinated with your spontaneous commentary. I know that everyone enjoyed the lecture very much – thank you so much. I understand that you did well with the sales of your cards and pictures – that showed how much you impressed us!

Christine Legge, Secretary of the Torquay Natural History Society

What a fantastic lecture you gave us and what superb photographs. It’s not often that I am lost for words after a lecture, but what you said, your enthusiasm for the subject and those beautiful animals in that unspoilt country said it all. Thank you very much indeed.

Colin Hall, Commodore of the Southern Yacht Club

Many thanks for a great lecture last night. Our members see a lot of fantastic slide shows from talented photographers but we were all stunned by the quality of your photos and drama of your being so close to the whales in your little kayak. We enjoyed your expert and heart warming talk and I would like to tell you that this is one of the best shows we have seen for years.

Peter Knowles, Secretary of the London River Rats

(subsequently invited back for a repeat lecture – the first such invitation in the twenty year history of the canoeing club)

I was a student in Exeter college of art & design from 1989-1992 where I attended a talk you gave on your travels and encounters with whales in Alaska.

Your talk has been one of those things which has stuck with me. I have always been interested in cetaceans, why I do not really know, I love all animals I suppose. I’ve been lucky enough to have seen and heard humpback whales whilst working on a wooden tall ship in Hervey Bay, Australia. I now live with my family in Pembrokeshire, West Wales where my partner and I recently sighted pilot whales. It gave me the same buzz as always.

I’ve just watched a documentary called ‘Black Fish’. Unbelievable, but not surprising. I wish something could be done. It made me want to look you up, and see your wonderful wild images. Thanks for inspiring me and instilling that feeling of amazement. May 5th 2014

Fran Evans

UK SCHOOLS – Torquay, Devon

Having invited Duncan to Shiphay School on several occasions, I can state with absolute certainty that he contributes most positively to the teaching and learning environment we provide. At both Year 5 and 6 he held children spellbound with his honest and open enthusiasm to convey his passion about conservation of whales, dolphins and other species. His slide show kept children engaged and interested until we all had to stop for a much deserved break. His empathy with children was obvious and his ability to answer questions and raise awareness was done so skilfully, it was a pleasure to be part of.

His artwork was superb. His techniques were passed on so positively and directly, that all the children felt that they could join in and succeed. Duncan also worked with Year 1 children and once again, he communicated so well that the children were fascinated.

Denise Russell , Deputy Headteacher Shiphay Community Primary School, Torquay

Your presentation represented your deep knowledge and understanding of wildlife. You communicated with the children at an appropriate level, answering all their questions with consideration and packing in numerous facts and anecdotes. Having such expertise as yourself, it was a pleasure to see how you managed to draw the children in to dialogue as equals.

The art workshop in the afternoon was super. Children who felt they had no artistic skills found themselves creating the most marvellous whales and dolphins. You were at all times calm and supportive of the large number of children you were working with.

Jill Mahon, Deputy Headteacher, Dartington C of E Primary School

For the third time Duncan has visited our school and woven his magic with the children here. His slide show gives a glimpse of a life that is difficult for our children, many of whom come from deprived backgrounds, to comprehend. It is a real treat for both the adults and the children. After the slide show we had a hands-on lesson to make various kinds of whales and dolphins. It was a magnificent experience and I would like others to know how valuable it was for someone like Duncan to come and educate the children about the importance of the conservation of whales and dolphins.

Anne England, Barton Primary School, Torquay

Your careers talk at Churston Ferrers Grammar School years ago, inspired me in helping me know what kind of life I want more than any other moment I can recollect. I knew then, all of a sudden I wanted to either become a wildlife photographer, filmmaker, or conservationist. May 9th 2014

James Benjamin Gilpin, former student of the same grammar school.

USA SCHOOLS – Eugene, Oregon

The glow from your presentation and art lesson is still lingering! I want to take the opportunity to let you know how much we enjoyed your visit. What a treat it was for our students to experience your expertise in so many fields and to be able to share a small part of your world through your presentation, slide show, and wonderful, hands on, creative art lesson.

Our students enjoyed your very personal, fact filled presentation, which you geared so well to the varying ability levels in our classroom. All the children were enthralled with what you had to share through your commentary and slide presentation. Pictures have a powerful impact and that combined with your compassionate, yet practical attitude towards whales and other animals you have focused your energies on gave the students an excellent role model. You communicated very well with the children, teaching them as well as listening to their ideas and questions. You really know how to reach children and encourage their own thinking and creativity. Personally, we were very impressed with your genuine interest in all of our students and their ideas and endeavors.


Your slide presentation was fantastic! It was truly awesome to see such magnificent photographs of the whales up close —very dramatic! I think it was also wonderful for my students to learn about your very different lifestyle and to see how dedicated you are to educating others about respecting and valuing the place that these wonderful creatures have in our world. They were very intrigued with you.

Your art class after lunch was excellent. You took the students step-by-step through the process so each child could feel successful. Our beautiful whales are all finished and hanging up in my classroom. It was very gratifying to see the children stick with this project from start to finish. Every student was determined to finish his/her whale, and they are very pleased with the results, as am I. You have a natural ability to make children feel comfortable and empowered as they carry out the task you are directing.

Finally, I want to encourage you to develop a solid career around educating children about whales and the other animals you encounter in your travels, as well as the related ecological issues. You are such a multi-talented person and have so much to share with children. I am convinced that this is work that you ought to be doing on a regular basis.


His artistic abilities and teaching skills are clearly evident, but his enthusiasm and patience with struggling students make him really special. He is the epitome of a kid magnet. Duncan brought the natural world into the classroom with his slides and wonderful stories. He, and his subject, were “real” to our students. He captivated the students for several hours; they didn’t want him to leave. Duncan taught a step-by-step art lesson on 3D humpback whales. He wouldn’t let anyone fail. He is an inspiration and a reminder of how important it is to be both engaging and patient as an educator. Enjoy his talents!


Duncan showed beautiful slides and told fascinating whale facts and adventures to our students. As one of their teachers, I was impressed with, not only his knowledge but also his ability to relate to a large group of students. We had to actually pry them away to go to recess!

Following the slide presentation, Duncan did an art project with my students. His artistic ability and teaching strategies enabled all the children to draw and paint a beautiful life-like whale. Many of them experienced success for the first time with a complex art project. The children were so enthusiastic about their works of art that they insisted on taking them home as holiday presents.


I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced Duncan Murrell’s whale workshop in my classroom. My students were captivated during the entire afternoon. Duncan began by showing his slide presentation. These pictures, taken by him were unique and absolutely spectacular. He shared information about the whales, their habitat and his own experiences with them.

The next part of the workshop was an art project developed by Duncan. He led the students through a step-by-step process drawing and painting whales. Duncan stressed creativity and originality during this process. Whatever the students came up with was encouraged and validated. The students had a wonderful time.

I encourage teachers who have the opportunity to take advantage of this great workshop. Duncan has a wonderful rapport with students. His unique experiences make this a very beneficial experience for them.


Duncan was a close friend of one of my students. Indigo, my student, was continually bringing in wonderful objects made out of milk cartons, boxes, paper mache, etc. which Duncan had helped her make. When Duncan would pick her up or bring her to school, he often stayed to share with the class how they made the objects, as the class was truly captivated by his creations and his presence.

When we did our Alaska bear unit, he shared some of his bear pictures with us and then helped a group of our students draw and paint a life size black bear. Whatever he did with the class, he always had their complete attention. His artistic abilities are incredible, but his way with children was also to be admired. He was always positive and fun and imaginative —and the children loved him! We, who have been lucky enough to have him in our classrooms, miss his talents and way with kids, and hope to see him back again!