Hundreds of supporters and special friends from around the world joined us on Friday 19th March 2021, for an evening of optimism to celebrate Born Free’s 37th Anniversary in style. Engagingly hosted by the delightful double act of Will Travers OBE and broadcaster (and Born Free Patron) Gaby Roslin, the dazzling virtual event raised vital funds for wild animal care and compassionate conservation.
Our hearts stirred by Kerry Ellis and Brian May’s poignant and powerful rendition of the Oscar-winning song Born Free, the audience was deeply moved as Co-Founder Virginia McKenna OBE looked back on filming Born Free with her late husband Bill Travers MBE, then explained how the death of one elephant, Pole Pole, lit a flame in our hearts which has never gone out.
Will Travers took us on a whistle stop tour of 37 years of saving wildlife, one animal at a time, before introducing messages of support and celebration from project workers around the world and some of our wonderful Patrons including actor and producer Dan Richardson, singer and broadcaster Mollie King, and Youth Ambassador and wildlife activist Bella Lack. A roar of approval from rescued lion Brutus in South Africa came close to stealing the show, before the screening of Protect Them, Protect Us – our powerful new film calling for an end to wildlife markets and investment in nature – reminded us why Born Free’s vision and mission are more important than ever before.
While bids came thick and fast for our opulent silent auction, guests were thrilled to hear extraordinary good news about tiger, lion, rhino and elephant numbers all on the up, and a sneak ‘first look’ of how 2021 could be the year when wildlife wins. Globally-renowned musician Eliza Marshall previewed her haunting and evocatively beautiful new flute composition, created to commemorate our anniversary, and then invited us to help Kickstart Freedom To Roam. The Rhythms Of Migration, an album, film and concert in aid of Born Free.
“It is extraordinary how generous you all are,” said Virginia McKenna. “We never forget the importance of one – one animal we help, one person who supports us, one gift they give. Our work is about heart and soul. Thank you for feeling as we do.”
But that wasn’t all. The evening concluded with a special message from Founder Patron Joanna Lumley OBE – there when we began and with us, tirelessly, ever since. “Born Free is 37 years old? I can hardly believe it,” she exclaimed. “Bless you all for being there with us, all the way.”
Bless you too Joanna. We couldn’t do it without you. We couldn’t do it without any of you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you do to save wild animals and protect individuals. Here’s to the next 37 years – there is much work to be done!
Images © Daisy Beck Productions, Daily Mail, George Logan