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Richard Dawkins and Viscount of Bangor's sister Lalla Ward separate after 24 years

Professor Richard Dawkins and his wife Lalla Ward have separated after 24 years of marriage.

Lalla Ward is the sister of the the 8th Viscount of Bangor of Castle Ward in Co Down. The actress is also well-known for her role as Romana in Doctor Who.

Professor Richard Dawkins is a high profile academic and renowned atheist.

The couple, who married in 1992, said their split was “entirely amicable”.

According to the Sunday Times, they released a joint statement which said: 'Our marriage, like everyone's, is a private matter and we are not prepared to share any details. Suffice to say it is true that we recently separated entirely amicably.

'Obviously, this remains a difficult time, one which we simply will not discuss any further publicly. We would, however, like to stress that we shall always be friends and that we will, of course, continue to work together.'

The news comes just months after the 75-year-old Oxford academic suffered a minor stroke that left one side of his body temporarily paralysed.

He rose to fame in the late 1970s with the publication of his work on evolution, The Selfish Gene.

His 2006 work Delusion, which argued that believing in God was delusional, made him a household name.

He is understood to have met Lalla at a party held by mutual friend Douglas Adams, a former Dr Who scriptwriter, in 1992 and they went on to marry six months later.

Lalla Ward, born Sarah, is the daughter of Edward Ward, 7th Viscount Bangor, and his fourth wife, Marjorie Alice Banks.

The family seat is at Castle Ward in County Down but the house and estate were made over in lieu of death duties to the Government of Northern Ireland, who presented the house and its gardens to the National Trust in 1952.

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