Born Free Thirtieth Anniversary Event

Pollyanna was delighted to welcome Virginia McKenna OBE, founder of the Born Free Foundation to her gallery in Derbyshire for a celebration day to mark the thirtieth anniversary of this remarkable charity.

Tickets for the event sold out completely, and Pollyanna and Virginia spent the whole day signing copies of a specially created limited edition calendar in Pollyanna's crowded gallery (above).

They were pleased to chat from visitors who had travelled the length and breadth of the UK - from the south coast to Scotland - to have the opportunity to purchase a calendar and view a specially staged exhibition of Pollyanna's work. Thanks to a day of beautiful sunshine, guests also enjoyed the opportunity to stroll round Pollyanna's landscaped 'African' gardens, while enjoying a glass of organic 'Wild Thing' wine - created by Vintage Roots.

There was also an opportunity to talk to Will Travers OBE - the CEO of Born Free - about the wonderful work they carry out. He also spent the whole day at the event, mingling with visitors.

Pollyanna Presents Virginia McKenna with a cheque for £5150.00 on behalf of the Pollyanna Pickering Foundation

Although the event was very informal, a few presentations were made in the afternoon. Pollyanna was pleased to be able to present Virginia with a cheque for £5150.00 to support the work Born Free do in protecting the Ethiopian wolves - one of the subjects of Pollyanna's latest book Way of the Wolf

Virginia thanked Pollyanna saying "One of my most delightful experiences is to visit Pollyanna Pickering’s Gallery in Derbyshire. To stand there, surrounded by her luminous and beautiful paintings of animals, is breath-taking.

She and her daughter, Anna-Louise, have been loyal and generous supporters of Born Free for about 25 years, visiting our rescued tigers in India all those years ago with my husband Bill.

This year it is the Ethiopian Wolf that has inspired her art and her generosity. She and Anna-Louise visited them with Professor Claudio Sillero, Born Free’s Head of Conservation, and became profoundly aware of the survival challenges they face. Wolves are the subject of their new book “Way of the Wolf” and it is fascinating in every way.

How fortunate we are to have such supporters. The day my son Will and I have just spent with them, and the many visitors to her special Born Free day, was unforgettable, and we are – as always – deeply grateful to them for their significant contribution to our work which will enhance our support for the Ethiopian Wolf Project, as these rare animals cling to survival high up in the mountains of Ethiopia."

Left: Virginia McKenna, Pollyanna Pickering, Anna-Louise Pickering and Will Travers

Pollyanna first worked with Born Free In 1990 when she travelled to the Bhannaghatta reserve in Southern India to paint five tigers rescued from appalling conditions in a roadside circus and flown to this sanctuary by the charity. The story of her remarkable journey to find the tigers is told in the book ‘The Eye of the Tiger, for which Virginia McKenna wrote the foreword. Pollyanna has returned to her original sketches to complete a brand new series of paintings of the Born Free Tigers especially for this anniversary event. Virginia also contributed the foreword to Pollyanna’s first book Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons

Since then, Pollyanna has been pleased to continue to support the work of Born Free – she has painted exclusive Christmas cards for the Foundation and was delighted to join them at their 21st anniversary celebrations at the Royal Geographical Society in 2005. The Pollyanna Pickering Foundation has also been able to contribute funding towards several of their projects, including purchasing equipment for their Orphan Polar Bear rescue project (this rescue scheme based in Canada is the only project which aims to re-release orphaned polar bears back into the wild). Five years ago the Summer exhibition in her gallery celebrated their 25th anniversary, and raised £12,000.00 for the charity.

BFF 05 trophy.ai

Pollyanna has also twice travelled to South Africa where she visited Born Free’s Big cat sanctuary at Shamwari to sketch lions and leopards rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities,now at home under the African sun. Pollyanna was delighted to meet the wonderful peopleworking with the big cats at the centre, and to see the enclosures donations from her Foundation helped to build! Brand new paintings of these cats were included in this special exhibition , alongside a series of works inspired by Joy Adamson’s original books

Year of Lion Event in Pollyanna's Gallery

On the 50th anniversary of the release of the iconic, award-winning motion picture Born Free, the Born Free Foundation have declared 2016 to be The Year of the Lion. This ongoing year of action and celebration will honour the 50th anniversary of the film Born Free and highlight the Foundation’s critical work to protect lions globally.

As a long standing patron of Born Free, Pollyanna was delighted to host very special guest Virginia McKenna OBE, at a one-day event to mark the Year of the Lion. Tickets for the event sold out completely, and Pollyanna and Virginia spent the whole day signing copies of a specially created limited edition calendar in Pollyanna's crowded gallery (above).  They were pleased to chat to visitors who had travelled the length and breadth of the UK - from the south coast to Scotland - to have the opportunity to purchase a calendar and view a specially staged exhibition of Pollyanna's work. Thanks to a day of beautiful sunshine, guests also enjoyed the opportunity to stroll round Pollyanna's landscaped 'African' gardens, while enjoying a glass of organic 'Wild Thing' wine - created by Vintage Roots. A percentage from the sale of each bottle goes to the Born Free Foundation. Although the event was very informal, a few presentations were made in the afternoon. Pollyanna was pleased to be able to present Virginia with a cheque for £7,500.00.  She was then quite overwhelmed when Virginia presented her with a most thoughtful and appropriate thank you gift – a brass plaque which will be placed alongside a specially planted tree at Born Free’s Ensessakotteh sanctuary in Ethiopia.                                                                                                                                    

DSC_0564Pollyanna also completed a brand new painting ‘The Year of the Lion’ which was unveiled at the event. She was inspired by the story of Elsa to paint a wild lioness as the sun rises over the plains – heralding a hopeful new dawn for lions in Africa. A Limited Edition print of the painting was exclusively launched on the day.

The first twenty-five prints in the edition have been co-signed by Virginia McKenna. (above)

Pollyanna completed original sketches on the mount of just ten of these.  Number One of the edition was donated and auctioned by celebrity auctioneer James Lewis at the Pride in the Park Born Free Foundation gala ball in July – raising the wonderful amount of £2400.00.  The remaining nine were unveiled at the opening of Pollyanna’s Year of the Lion event at 10.00am – and had completely sold out by 2.00pm!  - with Virginia buying one of the copies for her own collection.

The fight for the survival of lions in the wild has never been more urgent. When the film Born Free was released, 100,000 wild lions roamed free in Africa. Experts believe their numbers have now plummeted to fewer than 20,000 across the continent as their habitat dwindles and becomes more fragmented; as horrific retaliatory killings are perpetrated; and as hundreds of lions are slaughtered each year by trophy hunters in the name of ‘sport'. The £5000 contributed at Born Free’s gala dinner in March along with the £7,500 raised through the Year of the Lion event, means that the Pollyanna Pickering Foundation has been able to donate £12500.00 in 2016 – enough to fund the building of ten lion proof enclosures (bomas) in Kenya. These are a simple, cost effective approach to protecting livestock from predation at night. When cattle and other livestock are protected from lions, the Masai do not need to kill the lions to protect their livelihood. Born Free manages a local team of technicians who are now expert at erecting bomas, - and Pollyanna and Anna-Louise have been invited to travel out to Kenya with Born Free President Will Travers to help build some of these vital structures!

Pollyanna first worked with Born Free In 1990 when she travelled to the Bhannaghatta reserve in Southern India to paint five tigers rescued from appalling conditions in a roadside circus and flown to this sanctuary by the charity. The story of her remarkable journey to find the tigers is told in the book ‘The Eye of the Tiger, for which Virginia McKenna wrote the foreword. Pollyanna has returned to her original sketches to complete a brand new series of paintings of the Born Free Tigers especially for this anniversary event. Virginia also contributed the foreword to Pollyanna’s first book Giant Pandas and Sleeping Dragons

Since then, Pollyanna has been pleased to continue to support the work of Born Free – she has painted exclusive Christmas cards for the Foundation and was delighted to join them at their 21st anniversary celebrations at the Royal Geographical Society in 2005. The Pollyanna Pickering Foundation has also been able to contribute funding towards several of their projects, including purchasing equipment for their Orphan Polar Bear rescue project (this rescue scheme based in Canada is the only project which aims to re-release orphaned polar bears back into the wild). Five years ago the Summer exhibition in her gallery celebrated their 25th anniversary, and raised £12,000.00 for the charity.

BFF 05 trophy.ai

Pollyanna has also twice travelled to South Africa where she visited Born Free’s Big cat sanctuary at Shamwari to sketch lions and leopards rescued from zoos, circuses and other captive facilities,now at home under the African sun. Pollyanna was delighted to meet the wonderful peopleworking with the big cats at the centre, and to see the enclosures donations from her Foundation helped to build! Brand new paintings of these cats were included in this special exhibition , alongside a series of works inspired by Joy Adamson’s original books


"One of my most delightful experiences is to visit Pollyanna Pickering’s Gallery in Derbyshire. To stand there, surrounded by her luminous and beautiful paintings of animals, is breath-taking."
Virginia McKenna


Virginia and Pollyanna draw the raffle
Click here for a full list of winners.


Thank you to our official photographer Ruth Downing of Rural Pictures who took all the photos on this page. You can view a gallery of images from the day here.
Images can also be purchased directly from the site using a secure server payment method, with 50% of sales going to the Born Free Foundation



Will Travers (left) chats to vistors in Pollyanna's garden


Above: Guests enjoy the paintings in Pollyanna's gallery while she chats to Virgina


Above: Will records images of the event to share on Twitter, and the Born Free web site


"What a fabulous day at your gorgeous studio. So many people, such generosity and we had glorious weather to-boot! Thank you so much for the wonderful donation and for your steadfast support, encouragement and creative generosities over the many, many years. Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed the time with you and I am sure everyone else did too."

Will Travers OBE

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" One of my most delightful experiences is to visit Pollyanna Pickering’s Gallery in Derbyshire. To stand there, surrounded by her luminous and beautiful paintings of animals, is breath-taking."
Virginia McKenna

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Virginia and Pollyanna draw the raffle
Check back very soon for a full list of winners.


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Above : Pollyanna's daughter and business partner Anna-Louise joins Virgina and Pollyanna in the gallery

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Pollyanna presents Virginia with a cheque for £7500 from the Pollyanna Pickering Foundation

“When Pollyanna and Anna-Louise told me last year that they would like to hold an event for Born Free in 2016, I was bowled over!  It is not as if they haven’t already supported our work, in a most significant way, for many years.  Their generosity has always been incredible.

And now, this year has arrived!  It is 50 years since the film ‘Born Free’, which my husband Bill Travers and I acted in – playing the parts of George and Joy Adamson – was shown at a Royal Premiere in London.  Half a century ago.  In memory of that story we have called 2016, The Year of the Lion.  A tribute to the beautiful and unique lioness called Elsa, and to highlight the unforeseen challenges lions now face.  Killed as ‘trophies’ as well as confronting their own survival predicament.  Wild territory disappearing as human population increases and the space for wild animals diminishes at an unbelievable rate.

So this beautiful day will be a unique and touching memory of an experience that changed our lives forever. Lions still fill our hearts and minds and Pollyanna’s amazing artistry brings them to life once more”

                    Virginia McKenna OBE