Virginia McKenna

We welcomed a very special speaker to our August 2019 meeting. Virginia McKenna inspired us all with her talk on the founding of the Born Free Foundation ( ) which works to rescue animals in captivity and return them wherever possible to the wild. The charity is also concerned with fighting the wildlife trade and the trophy hunting industry.

A large audience of sixty seven members and guests listened, enthralled as she  told us of the organisation she and her husband Bill Travers started in 1971, inspired by their experiences in Kenya while making the film ‘Born Free’ about the lion called Elsa.  Illustrated with many slides of the animals she had been privileged to know over the years, Virginia explained the difficulties they had encountered along the way  and the many inspiring people – and animals – she had met. Her talk was peppered with amusing, uplifting and hair raising accounts of some of her encounters with animals during her work in film and wildlife conservation and rescue. Her descriptions of some of the terrible and unsuitable conditions some animals are kept in, convinced us all of the worthwhile efforts being made by BFF to reduce the suffering of animals kept in captivity or as pets.

Virginia started her talk with a brief outline of her acting career and we enjoyed seeing stills from many of her most famous films – The Cruel Sea, Carve her Name with Pride, A Town Like Alice and many others.

After her talk, Virginia kindly signed her books and chatted to members.

Our thanks to Louise James, Mary Sharp and team for serving welcome drinks and delicious refreshments.

Roberta Grieve and Lois Coulthart