19 July 2012
Categories: Homepage News
Virginia McKenna OBE, Bafta-award winning actress and founder of the international wildlife charity Born Free Foundation, has today another credit to her name since being awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from Nottingham Trent University.
The degree, offered in recognition of her significant contribution to film, theatre and wild animal conservation, was presented on 18th July at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham. Sir Michael Parkinson CBE, iconic broadcaster and the Chancellor of the University, was there to congratulate Virginia and present her with the honour.
The Ceremony for the graduates of the now 60-year old School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Science had a special citation for Virginia, describing both her film accolades and the valuable work that the Born Free Foundation carries out. The speech described one of Born Free’s recent projects which worked to reverse the extinction of the Ethiopian Wolf, and not only aimed to protect the threatened species but also to educate and raise awareness locally and around the world of the animals’ plight.
Also told was the heart-warming story of Elsa the lioness, whose story was depicted in the classic film ‘Born Free’, which starred Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers, and whose image forms part of the Born Free Foundation’s logo.
The ceremony also described the story of Pole-Pole the elephant, whose death at London Zoo inspired the charity’s ethos to ‘Keep Wildlife in the Wild’, and prompted Virginia and Bill to launch Zoo Check, later to become the Born Free Foundation, with their eldest son, Will Travers OBE, now the Foundation’s CEO.
Responding to the honour, Virginia said: “I have been incredibly lucky to have had the chance to follow my heart and my beliefs”, particularly in the challenging experience of trying “to change people’s minds and hearts, so they can see the individual animal, its vulnerability, to see how it can suffer and, sometimes, how it can be fulfilled”.