29 June 2023
REMEMBERING JOHN & JANETTE WARD WITH LOVE
Born Free was saddened to hear of the recent deaths of Janette and John Ward, but we are so grateful for their wonderful, long-term support of our wildlife charity, in honour of their daughter Julie.
It was with great sorrow that Born Free learned of the passing of two dear friends, Janette and John Ward, who died recently – Janette passed away on 25th May and John just two weeks later. Our wildlife charity was deeply honoured to be associated with the couple, who first started supporting Born Free in 1996.
Janette and John’s daughter Julie, a publishing assistant and budding wildlife photographer, was tragically killed in Kenya in 1988, aged 28 years. Seven years after her death, Born Free rescued lion and lioness Anthea and Raffi from a squalid cage on the rooftop of a Tenerife restaurant and rehomed them at a sanctuary in Kent. Moved by their story, Julie’s mother Jan felt she would like to raise money for a lion sanctuary in Africa and got in touch with Born Free in 1996.
One year later, thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of Julie, Anthea and Raffi became the first residents at Born Free’s new big cat sanctuary in South Africa. Surrounded by the beautiful sights and sounds of Africa, the sanctuary’s spacious, natural bush enclosures were designed to provide the big cats with the space, privacy and safety they so desperately needed.
Then in September 1998, Born Free held a Gentle Nature exhibition in London, featuring photographs and letters from Julie’s last African adventure. The money raised from the exhibition and resulting book helped develop the sanctuary at Shamwari and create a new education centre. On 29th September 1999, the Julie Ward Rescue and Education Centre was officially opened (see picture below left).
Today, the centre continues to welcome local children in Julie’s honour to learn about their own wildlife, about the importance of compassionate conservation and the suffering individual wild animals can endure in captivity. The centre is home to six lions and two leopards rescued from appalling captive conditions, including the ‘Lions of Lockdown’ – four lions rescued from a circus in France and rehomed at the Julie Ward Centre last year.
“Thank you, John and Jan for all you, and Julie, have enabled Born Free to achieve and for helping transform the lives of big cats in need,” said Born Free’s Executive President, Will Travers OBE. “Saddened as we are to lose you, it fills me with happiness that your kindness and generosity will continue to live on through our work, caring for wild animals. We will forever hold you and your beloved daughter Julie in our hearts.”
We are so grateful to John and Janette’s sons, Tim and Bob, for asking for gifts in loving memory of their parents to be made to Born Free. If you would like to donate please visit bornfree.enthuse.com/pf/janward
The opening of the Julie Ward Centre in 1999 (from L to R): Adrian Gardiner from Shamwari, Jan Ward, Julie’s friend Lucy Brewer, actor Helen Worth and Dame Virginia McKenna
Sidney Clay and Catherine Gillson from Shamwari, with John Ward in 2012
Image (c) www.georgelogan.co.uk