Year of the Lion Day with special guest Virginia McKenna OBE

Date: 7th August 10.00am – 5.00pm
Venue : The Gallery, Brookvale House Oaker, Matlock, Derbyshire, DE4 2JJ

Event : Year of the Lion Day with special guest Virginia McKenna OBE

Pollyanna is looking forward to welcoming 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.

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 Year of action and celebration will honour the 50th anniversary of the film Born Free and the Foundation’s critical work to protect lions globally.

As a long standing patron of Born Free, Pollyanna invites you to join her, and very special guests Virginia McKenna and her son Will Travers, President of Born Free, at a one-day event to mark the thirtieth anniversary of The Born Free Foundation. In recognition of this milestone an exclusive limited edition calendar will be published featuring twelve of Pollyanna’s paintings inspired by the work of Born Free. Only 200 calendars will be published, each will be individually numbered – and you will have the opportunity to have the calendar signed by both Pollyanna and Born Free Founder Virginia.

DSC_0564Pollyanna has also completed a brand new painting ‘The Year of the Lion’ (left) which will be 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 will be exclusively launched at the event The first twenty-five of the edition will be co-signed by Virginia McKenna, and Pollyanna will complete original sketches on the mount of just ten of these, which will be available to purchase exclusively at the open day – contact us for more details.

Admission to the event will be strictly for ticket holders only. The price of £25.00 includes :

● Entry for two people
● One copy of the limited edition calendar
● Two glasses of wine (or soft drinks)
● Light Buffet
● Five entries into a prize draw to win an original painting
(Additional calendars will be available to purchase on the day at a cost of £19.99)

As well as meeting and chatting to Virginia and Pollyanna guests will have the opportunity to view Pollyanna’s gallery, which will be displaying a one day only exhibition of originals selected to compliment Born Free’s work – and stroll round her uniquely landscaped gardens. Virginia will be happy to sign copies of her inspirational and critically acclaimed memoirs ‘The Life in my Years’. There will be the chance to talk to representatives of Born Free about the wonderful work they carry out. Tea and coffee will be available throughout the day. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Born Free’s wildlife rescue projects.

Visitors will be able to enjoy  a glass of organic 'Wild Thing' wine - created by Vintage Roots - every bottle sold supports the work of Born Free.

Click here to book online


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). In 2009 the Summer exhibition in her gallery celebrated their 25th anniversary, and raised £12,000.00 for the charity.  She has subsequently hosted two very successful open days at her gallery to mark the publication of the book Wildness, and in honour of the charity's 30th anniversary.

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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

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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


The Pollyanna Pickering Foundation is aiming to raise £12,500 during The Year of the Lion to build ten lion proof bomas in Kenya, in conjunction with the Born Free Foundation.

Our main fundraising event will be the 'Year of the Lion Day' at Pollyanna's private gallery on 7th August.

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'.

Lion-proof bomas are a simple, cost effective approach to protecting livestock from predation at night. Each consists of erecting a ring of strong poles, spaced 3 metres apart, around a natural thorn boma; then a 2m high hexagonal steel wire mesh is put in place and finally doors are made from recycled oil drums. Lion-proof bomas do make a difference! They save both lions and livestock.   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 lead by a coordinating officer based in Nairobi. 



The PPF summer prize draw will offer the oportunity to win an original painting, as well as fabulous runner-up prizes including signed limited edition calendars, and signed Born Free DVDs. Above : Virginia and Pollyanna draw the winning tickets in 2014



Click Here to see images from the last Born Free day to be held in Pollyanna's gallery in 2014.