Actress, author and passionate wildlife campaigner Virginia McKenna will officially open Ellesmere’s new library next month.

The 85-year-old star of the acclaimed 1966 film Born Free has accepted an invitation from the Friends of Ellesmere Library to perform the ceremony at the refurbished Meres Day Centre on June 27.

Work began recently to convert part of the ground floor of the centre to accommodate the library so that it can be relocated from its current home in the nearby Fullwood House.

The new community facility will include provision for day care visitors and young people with learning difficulties, together with a cafe.

It will be operated by the Shrewsbury-based social care charity, Bethphage, which is taking over the management of the library from Shropshire Council.

Friends’ secretary Anne Wignall said: “We are delighted that Virginia McKenna has agreed to open the new library. Apart from her dedication to wildlife and conservation, and her outstanding work on stage and screen, she has also written a number of books, speaks at literary festivals and is a keen supporter of libraries.”

After the opening ceremony Virginia (pictured) will attend an evening event, organised by the Friends’ group at The Boathouse restaurant in Ellesmere. She will tell the audience about her life and work, and the importance of preventing animal suffering and protecting species.

She will also sign copies of her autobiography, The Life in My Years, which charts her acting career over more than 60 years and her crusading work for animal welfare and conservation through the Born Free Foundation.

On the second day of her visit, Virginia will speak to local schoolchildren at an event hosted by Ellesmere College.

Tickets for An Evening With Virginia McKenna at The Boathouse on Tuesday, June 27 are £20 to include a two-course supper and are available from Sue Ardill on 01691 624331, Paul Goulborne on 01691 623858 or email