Shane Warne’s legacy will live on beyond his cricketing achievements, with his animal conservation work for the United Nations to be honoured with a new grant.
At a state memorial service in Melbourne on Wednesday, Andrea Egan from the UN Development Programme revealed Warne joined its wildlife fund, Lion’s Share, in 2021.
Ms Egan announced the Shane Warne conservation grant to memorialise the spin king’s work to protect wildlife and catalyse more action.
“His legacy extends beyond the hearts of the people here today,” she told the crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“It lives on in the people of Sri Lanka promoting sea turtle conservation, in an all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa and the team at the Byron Bay hospital, who were supported in the wake of the bushfires.
“All this work and more, Shane helped make possible. We are forever grateful for his championship and will work to honour his memory in a manner that does justice to the person he was.”
Warne had a history of charity and community work, including through his disbanded foundation, but his links to wildlife conservation were previously unknown.
The cricket legend, who died in Thailand of a suspected heart attack on March 4, was remembered during Wednesday night’s farewell as a loveable larrikin and devoted dad.
His father Keith Warne led tributes and described his son’s death as the “darkest day in our family’s life”.
Warne’s children, Jackson, Summer and Brooke, unveiled the renamed Great Southern Stand as the Shane Warne Stand after each giving emotional speeches.
Friend and former St Kilda footballer Aaron Hamill gave an insight into Warne’s larrikin nature, when the cricketer served as his best man and leaned in for a hug just before the nuptials.
“He said ‘mate, it’s not too late’ and, Shane being Shane, he pulled out two passports. He managed to get his hands on my passport as a bit of a gag,” Hamill said.
Elton John, Chris Martin, Robbie Williams and Ed Sheeran were among those to lend their superstar talents with pre-recorded musical performances, while Australian actors Hugh Jackman and Eric Bana also gave virtual tributes.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese were in attendance.
Others at the MCG, the site of Warne’s hat-trick in 1994 and 700th Test wicket in 2006, included former Australian captain Allan Border, ex-English skipper Nasser Hussain and West Indian great Brian Lara.
Warne’s everyman appeal was on full display outside the ground as his statue once again became adorned with beer cans and baked beans – two of his other great loves.