Born Free film star and charity co-founder Bill Travers pictured with a lion (Picture: Born Free Foundation).
Animals

2022 declared Year of the Lion in honour of ex-Gurkha 'Born Free' star

Bill Travers, who co-founded the animal conservation charity Born Free, would have been 100 today.

Born Free film star and charity co-founder Bill Travers pictured with a lion (Picture: Born Free Foundation).

2022 has been declared 'Year of the Lion' in honour of an ex-Gurkha and film star on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Bill Travers starred in the 1966 film 'Born Free' and co-founded a charity with the same name which deals with the conservation of wildlife and endangered animals.

He died suddenly in 1994, but the charity is now run by his eldest son Will Travers. His wife, co-founder and co-star in 'Born Free' Virginia McKenna sits on the board of trustees.

A fund named 'Forever Lions' has been set up in Mr Travers' memory, to raise funds and awareness to address the plight of lions.

People will also have the chance to join the Born Free Pride – to receive updates and content through the year, and the opportunity to meet Virginia and Will for a virtual coffee on World Lion Day in August.

Virginia McKenna said: "'It's not that I am more interested in animals than humans, I'm just interested in life'.

"This is written on Bill's gravestone and the words say it all. His childhood, his service with the 9th Gurkhas in Burma during the war; our family life together; our family home in which I still live; our children (and now, my grandchildren and great-grandchildren).

"Without doubt, I know he would be deeply proud of how the charity has developed, and grateful for the way it has evolved under the tireless leadership of Will and the determined efforts, over nearly four decades, of the Born Free team. I add my voice to his."

Will Travers said: "My dad was a special person.

"He was a lion – courageous, protective, strong, and fearless. Along with Virginia, he was and remains my, and our, inspiration."