Joanna Lumley and the Human Swan: Where is Sacha Dench from and which famous celebrity is she related to?

Joanna Lumley fronts ITV documentary on ‘Human Swan’ Sacha Dench

Tragedy struck in September during the making of the ITV doc

Conservationist Sacha Dench, also known as ‘the Human Swan’, is the subject of a new ITV documentary fronted by Joanna Lumley.

Unfortunately, some readers might recognise Sacha’s name after tragedy struck her back in September.

The adventurer was in the Scottish Highlands as part of a 3,000 mile challenge flying a para-motor around Britain.

Her aim was to raise awareness of the effects of climate change.

Sadly, Sacha collided in the air with her companion pilot Dan Burton.

Tragically, Dan died in the accident but Sacha survived.

Joanna Lumley and Sacha Dench
Sacha Dench and Joanna Lumley team up for a new ITV documentary about climate change (Credit: ITV)

Who is Sacha Dench and where is she from?

Sacha is a biologist and climate campaigner from Australia.

She was a so-called ‘tomboy’ growing up in a remote, rural community in the south east of the vast continent.

Sacha also spent her childhood in Suffolk, France and Switzerland, as well as Down Under.

She studied for her Masters degree in the UK, where she discovered her skill for free-diving.

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Within weeks, Sacha began competing in the underwater sport for the UK.

Free-diving is reliant on divers holding their breath for long amounts of time.

She also led the Australian free-diving team.

Sacha Dench is an ambassador for the UN’s Convention on Migratory Species and CEO and founder of Conservation Without Borders.

According to reports, she is a distant relative of acting great Dame Judi Dench.

Sacha Dench is known as the 'Human Swan'
Sacha Dench flew 7,000 kilometres by para-motor in 2016 (Credit: WWF International YouTube)

Why is Sacha Dench also called ‘the Human Swan’?

The nickname came about after Sacha undertook a perilous para-motor flight in 2016.

She flew 7,000 kilometres across 11 countries tracking the migrating Bewick swan, travelling from Russia to the UK.

The incredible feat took over 10 weeks to complete.

What has Joanna Lumley said about Sacha Dench’s accident?

Joanna Lumley paid tribute to Dan and Sacha as she explained the decision behind finishing the documentary following the “ghastly” accident.

The Ab Fab star said: “Both Dan’s family and Sacha, and everybody involved, were so keen that we still got to tell this story and in time for COP26.

“Sacha remains in hospital and is being cared for brilliantly. Dan was such an exceptional man, he was so funny and so full of life and such an adventurer, such a huge personality.

“Rather like mountaineers, they are always aware of the danger and the downfalls that can await them.”

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Hailing Sacha and Dan as “phenomenal adventurers”, Joanna reflected: “Ghastly though this accident was, and it’s unbearable for Dan’s family and for Sacha struggling with her colossal injuries in hospital, they were absolutely adamant that we went ahead with it.

“So that’s what gave me the courage to go on and to finish the film and to show it as they wished and as we longed to do.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sacha Dench (@sachadench)

What injuries did Sacha Dench sustain in her accident?

Details concerning Sacha’s injuries have not been confirmed.

However, she has not posted on social media since her accident.

According to Joanna Lumley, Sacha remains in hospital.

She was hospitalised in Inverness with injuries reported to be serious but not life-threatening.

Joanna Lumley and the Human Swan on ITV1

Actress Joanna follows para-motorist Sacha Dench, also known as the Human Swan, as she flies round Britain encouraging people to tackle the climate crisis.

Together, they discover volunteers all over the country who are cleaning the beaches of plastic waste, pioneering aeroponic farming in shipping containers, and planting trees to replace forests that have disappeared.

Joanna and Sacha also encounter some very real problems as a result of climate change.

These include crumbling coastlines, lost homes, and endangered seabirds and Scottish wildcats.

The ITV1 documentary remains upbeat despite the opening announcement that cameraman and support pilot Dan Burton tragically died in a mid-air collision.

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Joanna Lumley and the Human Swan airs on ITV1 on Monday November 1 at 9pm.

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Robert Leigh
Freelance writer