Congratulations Virginia!

I’ve some wonderful news to share and wanted personally to tell you without delay.

My mother and Founder of the Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna OBE, has just been awarded the prestigious ‘Outstanding Contribution Honour’, at ITV’s inaugural British Animal Honours 2013. Broadcast earlier this evening, the dazzling awards ceremony was hosted by Paul O’Grady and celebrated the country’s most extraordinary animals and the amazing people who dedicate their lives to them. I hope you managed to see it, but if not you can see a video and read a transcript of Virginia’s speech here.

Here at the Born Free Foundation we’re deeply moved and very proud that Virginia’s tireless work for wildlife has been so publicly recognised – the tributes from Martin Clunes, Jenny Seagrove, Helen Worth, Brian May and Anita Dobson are still ringing in my ears.

The awards ceremony included a fascinating insight into her life as a wildlife crusader and, of course, as a much-loved actress.  Virginia, who was voted one of the most inspirational people of all time in a Daily Telegraph poll, starred in some of our best-loved films, including Carve Her Name With Pride, A Town Like Alice, Ring of Bright Water and of course, the phenomenally successful Born Free – a film which changed her life and that of my late father Bill with whom she co-starred.

But despite an exceptional career in cinema and theatre, Virginia pushed aside the glamour of movie stardom and the West End stage to focus on her personal mission with the Born Free Foundation, the wildlife charity she helped found back in 1984 and on whose behalf has worked unstintingly ever since.

Seeing her recognised in this way – by her peers and by the public at large – has given me fresh inspiration and I know you too share her passion for lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, bears, dolphins, wolves and thousands of wild animals that rely on us for their safety and survival.

It’s great to count on you as part of the Born Free family and so, as a mark of respect for Virginia’s work, I have a personal request to make. I wonder if you would click on the buttons below and take further action to save lives, stop suffering, rescue individuals and protect species.

Virginia has just launched a major appeal to raise funds to protect Africa’s lions from exploitation and we urgently need your help and support.

And finally, you can keep up to date with our work to help animals through our social media.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up to our free monthly e-newsletter BF-Mail.  Get connected to the wild today!

Together, thanks to Virginia, we are a voice for the animals and a force for good.

17 Responses to “Congratulations Virginia!”

  1. Donna Mackenzie Says:

    Huge Congratulations Virginia. There really is no-one more deserving of the award. I’m absolutely delighted that all your hard work has been recognised in this way. I’d managed not to cry during the award ceremony until that point!!! Your speech was so moving and inspiring. Would have made me join BF if I hadn’t already done so.

  2. Robert Humphries Says:

    I had the honour in meeting you in September 2011 at EMI Records celebrating the music of Matt Monro with our dear friend, Michele Monro. You kindly signed my Born Free CD on the night but I was too nervous to talk to you more about our dear friend John Barry! I was deeply touched by your speech last night on the award show as well as your speech to John for his lifetime BAFTA award. Congratulations on this award.

  3. gill gilbey Says:

    dear Will,I saw the show which was truly remarkable and moving.The whole programme was inspirational for us all.Virginia McKenna thoroughly deserves the accolade given to her.Watching her in “Carve Her Name With Pride” had a great effect on me and she has brought all that “bravery” to Born Free.

  4. nicole popplewell Says:

    congratulations, so justly deserved.

  5. Christine Says:

    was totally amazed and found it very emotional to watch the awards last night, Virginia is such a special lady and all who are involved with this organisation. What a splendid speech.
    kindest regards

  6. Catherine Clarke Says:

    It was so overwhelming to see all these people doing good for animals – some of them dedicated their life to them, such as the Wildlife Ambulance Rescue Service and Jill Robinson with the despicable bear farms. It was only fitting that Virginia won the award. She and the team at Born Free have worked tirelessly for the release of wild animals. Let’s hope that through her speech she would have touched many hearts who will put their feelings into action.

  7. Sue Davey Says:

    Virginia you are incredible. Thank you, and to you son for for making changes to the injustice for wild animals. I am with you to do what I can.

  8. Mary Jones Says:

    When I first saw the film Born Free, I was moved so much, that I had to stuff my hankerchief in my mouth so that othr cinemagoers wouldn`t hear my sobs.
    Virginia Mc Kenna is not only beautiful outside but also inside.

  9. Elinor Priestley Says:

    I watched the awards on Thursday night and felt so very proud of Virginia McKenna, she really is an inspirational woman. There is no doubt that she deserved that special award.
    I am a primary school teacher and we have adopted animals through Born free before. First thing on Friday morning, after the awards, I told my class about Virginia and they were as proud of her as I am. We have voted for an animal to adopt and the lucky animal is the gorilla. I really hope that after Thursday many, many more people are showing their support and adopting an animal.
    Your charity is truly amazing and all the hard work you do to rescue and support these beautiful animals is incredible. Thank you and well done.

  10. Van Sweeveldt Koen Says:

    Again congratulations, this time with your ‘contribution award’ !!

    Your contribution for individual animals and wildlife all over the globe is not unnoticed.
    You are indeed a great inspiration for so many people and a voice for all animals who can’t speak for themselves.The spirit of Elsa ‘The lioness of both worlds’ is still traveling with you through life.
    Her light is still shining bright through you.
    We may not only just say “congratulations”, no we must say, Thank you Virginia !!
    So deserved !

  11. Elizabeth Coles Says:

    I am already very aware of the atrocities that wild animals are subjected to and I send money regularly. However at the moment my mind is focussed on animals that are trapped and subjected to unbelievable suffering for ‘medicinal purposes’. Wild animals particularly shoud be born free and live free, protected from humans who are very aware of what they are doing and profit by it.

  12. Animal Friends Insurance Says:

    Congratulations Virgina! There’s not many individuals in the world that provide so much love, care and attention for animal welfare. The work you do through Born Free is an inspiration to us all and we are proud to have supported and continue to support the foundation.

    Thank you for all you do.

    Animal Friends

  13. Virginia McKenna Says:

    “ Thank you all, and the people who have sent me cards and letters. I am very touched by your generous words . But, you know, we could not do what we do without you. You are not just a voice, you are not just a kind letter writer. Your compassion helps us to carry on , another reason why we will always try to help animals and prevent suffering. You are OUR inspiration, you give us hope, and I thank you on behalf of us all .
    We know about and have seen the suffering humans can cause helpless and innocent animals. It is a shame we must redress. And it is you who help us to try and do just that. I cannot tell you what that means to us.”


  14. Katy Says:

    Hi, would just like to say that I watched the awards show and I find the work done by Born Free is truly inspirational. Virginia is incredible and an inspiration. I plan to take a trip out there myself and physically get involved in the future.
    Currently I’m still doing my GCSEs at school and hope to train to become a vet at university but I’m also determined to support the born free foundation. I strongly believe that humans who cause suffering to animals are pure evil and it breaks my heart so it inspires me to help those innocent, helpless animals and try give them the good quality of life they deserve.
    Thank you

  15. Gill Says:

    well done it should have been a lot soon ,as you are a inspirational too a lot of people,and deserve this honour,

  16. Anna Spencer Says:

    I have just watched the video of Virginia McKenna’s acceptance speech for the first time this evening and was completely mesmerised. What a wonderful speech! Being a brilliant actress certainly is an asset, when it comes to giving talks or accepting awards! I hope some more accolades will be forthcoming, as these are so richly deserved. I wish I had such energy! I just don’t know how Virginia manages to achieve so much. I think having Will at the helm must certainly help a great deal. All I can manage to do is write Activate letters!

  17. Lisa Morris Says:

    Virginia McKenna is a gift & a blessing to the Animal world, she is true to self & inspirational, Born Free the movie had a massive impact on me as a child & has never
    left my heart & neither has she, Love, Inner peace & Blessings ~ Namaste!