Star heads to Horsham to judge competition

Virginia McKenna with staff at the Strade restaurant in Horsham.
Virginia McKenna with staff at the Strade restaurant in Horsham.

A British actress and wildlife activist popped down to Horsham today (September 11) to judge a competition aiming to promote the town’s Elephantastic Trail.

Born Free star and former Horsham pupil Virginia McKenna was invited to judge an elephant colouring competition run by Horsham restaurant Strada as part of the summer charity campaign.

The restaurant, in East Street, has been giving youngsters blank elephant templates and challenged them to come up with their own creative designs.

Participants were also asked to come up with an interesting name for their elephant, with the winning entries receiving a prize.

“Judging has been terribly difficult. There has been a very high standard of entries,” Mrs McKenna said.

“It was very difficult to decide between one and another but sometimes it comes down to how it feels.

“Many are going to be disappointed they have not won but long as you know you have entered and tried your best that’s all that matters.”

Two winners were chosen, one from the teenage category and another from the children’s.

In the teenager category 13-year-old Cai took home top prize with colourful elephant ‘Sunny’. ‘Sally the Striding Strada Elephant’ created by six-year-old Finlay won the children’s category.

The competition was run alongside the town’s Elephantastic Trail which has seen 185 different model elephants, painted and decorated by more than 100 organisations, scattered across the district.

Members of the public were challenged to find these models, write down their names and return the list to win prizes.

The campaign ended on August 31 and 66 different charities were supported in the process.

The majority of funds raised by the town trails are set to help Horsham based charity Born Free Foundation who have partnered this years event.

Mrs McKenna said she was impressed with the town’s charity campaign and thought it was important to continue raising awareness about the loss of elephants in the wild, especially for young people.

She said: “There are so many wonderful ways of doing campaigns. They can be punchy or shocking or gentle like this one.

“This is absolutely wonderful because it is a lot of fun and is very beautiful but it is for a cause which is not quite as beautiful.

“The children are really the hope for the future and it is incredibly important to get them involved in a way which is fun.”

The elephants from the trial are now due to be sold at auction to raise money for their respective charities.