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Warney and the turtle-saving mission that blindsided everyone

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During the state funeral for Australian cricket great Shane Warne, a surprising detail was revealed that no one knew about – the cricket legend’s conservation mission.

Shane Warne’s incredible generosity has become common knowledge. The sporting megastar had a strong history supporting charities and communities. But revelations of Warne’s turtle-saving work with the United Nations came as an unexpected twist at his state funeral Wednesday night.

Along with parental, commentary and – of course – golfing duties, the retired cricketer had turned his attention to even more noble missions. Warne’s UN resume included sea turtle conservation in Sri Lanka, anti-poaching in South Africa and bushfire assistance in Byron Bay.

“That nearly blew me out of the water,” Warne’s good friend Sam Newman told Sunrise the day after the state funeral.

“They had a representative from the United Nations! I tell you what, if that man has not taken all before him I’d like to see someone who can top that. Wow. Heavens above.”

Speaking at the memorial service at the MCG, 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 cricket icon’s work to protect wildlife and inspire more action.

“His legacy extends beyond the hearts of the people here today,” she told the crowd.

Ms Egan said the ‘United Nations is committed to honouring Shane’s contributions’ and that the last time she spoke to Warne, he expressed his enthusiasm for the work done by the UN.

“The last time I spoke with Shane he expressed his passion for our work, his connection to Sri Lanka, his desire to be part of something larger than him,” Ms Egan said during her speech at the state funeral.

“It (Warne’s legacy) 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.”

Warne Sr Lanka

Almost a month after the sudden death of cricket legend Shane Warne, more than 50,000 people and a host of performers attended his state funeral at the MCG.

The cricket legend, some would say the GOAT, died suddenly on March 4 after being found unresponsive by friends in a villa he was staying at in Koh Samui, Thailand. 

Warne’s family and closest friends farewelled the ‘king of spin’ at a private service earlier this month at the home of his beloved St Kilda Football Club, Moorabbin Oval.

The 708-Test wicket great was remembered during the state funeral as a lovable larrikin and devoted father, with many stories being told by Warne’s family, friends and former cricket stars.

In a touching tribute, the MCG’s Great Southern Stand was re-named the ‘Shane Warne Stand’ with Warne’s children Jackson, Summer and Brooke having the honour of unveiling the signage.

“He’s got a statue out the front and to have a grandstand named after him now is unbelievable,” Shane Warne’s son Jackson Warne said.

“Sad as it is, for all of us to come and sit down at this ground for the rest of our lives and be able to say we’re sitting in dad’s stand forever is pretty special.”

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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