Screen icon back at Byre Theatre

Virginia McKenna.
Virginia McKenna.

Stage and screen star Virginia McKenna OBE is to make a return to St Andrews next month for a special guest performance in aid of Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity specialising in the care of veterans’ mental health.

The BAFTA-winning actress, who starred in the 1966 hit movie Born Free, will visit the town on Saturday, September 1, to perform in ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times.’

The evening aims to raise much needed funds for Combat Stress and also increase awareness of the first class service the charity delivers.

The compelling performance at the Byre Theatre will feature stories, poems, songs and music from the First and Second World Wars.

This special evening will also feature Lindy Alexander, who has written and devised the show and who has worked extensively in television and theatre, including several musicals. Both Lindy and Virginia will be joined by actor David Simeon and pianist Martin Hall.

Ms McKenna, who took to the Byre stage last year when she spoke of her childhood visits to the Auld Grey Toun, told the Citizen: “I feel very strongly about the welfare of our Armed Forces and believe the work carried out by Combat Stress cannot be commended enough.

‘‘This important charity will need even more vital support and funding as our troops return from Afghanistan.

“After the success of our production in Surrey two years ago I was keen to come to Scotland to help raise further awareness of this great charity and in the process do something that I love, performing.”


Kath Provan, fundraising officer for Combat Stress in Scotland, said: “It is an honour that such a talented actress like Virginia recognises the work we do here at Combat Stress. We appreciate not only her support but also the time which Lindy, David and Martin are giving us to put on what is set to be a memorable evening.

“This production is a brilliant example of how we can use events to convey the work that we do and ensure that Combat Stress remains front of people’s minds, which ultimately helps our veterans gain access to prompt treatment, care and support.”

Virginia McKenna was an icon of the British movie industry in the 1950s and 60s, appearing with stars like Jack Hawkins, Paul Schofield, Jack Warner and Peter Finch in classics such as ‘The Cruel Sea, ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ and ‘A Town Like Alice,’ among many others.


In the 1960s she and her late husband Bill Travers established the Born Free Foundation after starring together in the popular film as Joy and George Adamson, a real-life couple who raised Elsa the lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya. The movie was was based upon Joy Adamson’s 1960 non-fictional book, Born Free.

To find out more about the performance and to book a ticket for the evening go to: or call the box office on 01334 47500