Jane Goodall is excited. “Have you heard?” she says, as we eat lunch in the restaurant at Compton Acres in Poole. “We’ve been shortlisted for an Oscar!” She is referring to the film about her life, Jane’s Journey, which had its UK premiere at Bournemouth University.
The scientist, conservationist and UN International Messenger of Peace, Dr Jane Goodall, DBE, spends 300 days a year travelling the world raising environmental awareness. In between trips she still lives in her family home in Bournemouth, and she is at Compton Acres for a very special event. The Jane Goodall Rose, described as the ‘ultimate romantic flower’ has been created by Christian Hanak and La Roseraie Guillot. Jane planted the first of 400 of these most remarkable climbing roses on 17 May in the Rose garden of Val-de-Marne near Paris. “The fragrance”, says Jane, “is exquisite”. Today two more Jane Goodall Roses are to be planted, one in Jane’s honour at Poole’s Compton Acres, the other in her own garden in Bournemouth. A third is going to the rose garden of Lord Eden to thank him for a wonderful dinner he hosted, for JGI-UK, in the House of Lords. The only other one in the UK will be auctioned to help support JGI’s Roots & Shoots conservation and humanitarian education programme which has tens of thousands of groups in over 120 countries – including in 1,500 schools throughout the UK.
Our host for the afternoon is Peter Thoday, Gardens Advisor to Compton Acres and presenter of BBC2’s The Victorian Kitchen Garden. Peter leads a small group of Jane’s family and friends, and staff and volunteers from JGI-UK, JGI-France and JGI-Global, the length of Compton Acres. On this exceptionally warm and sunny afternoon, the gardens are still beautiful even in November. We are joined by a Roots & Shoots group from Ringwood School.
The head gardener has chosen a wonderful sunny place beside the path to be the new home of the Jane Goodall Rose, and there we are joined by the Mayor and Mayoress of Bournemouth, Councillor Chris Rochester and Mrs Val Rochester and, arriving last, the Mayor and Mayoress of Poole, Councillor Graham Wilson and Mrs Sally Wilson. The Mayor of Poole gives a short speech about Jane’s many achievements. The Mayor of Bournemouth notes Jane’s lifelong connection with Bournemouth. An oak tree was planted in January in Bournemouth Gardens by Jane and the former Mayor, Councillor Barry Goldbart in celebration of Jane’s 50 years of research with chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania.
Then before the rose is planted Jane has all the children, and not a few adults, kiss its roots – to give it strength, she says. Though the Mayor of Poole has the shiny town ceremonial spade at the ready, to do the job properly Jane is down on her hands and knees, fingers in the dirt, making sure her rose is planted to her satisfaction. The Roots & Shoots children all lend a hand. It is a happy, warm occasion. Jane’s love of life and nature raising everyone’s spirits and giving us all a sense of optimism for the future.
Later, the sun already below the tree line, with the family dogs Charlie, Callie and Henry playing on the lawn, Jane plants the second rose just outside her sitting room window. Afterwards we gather for a cup of coffee, sitting by a roaring fire with Jane’s family, dogs sprawled on the floor. Jane is still excited about the Oscar. She only heard late last night that Jane’s Journey has been chosen from an original list of 124 films to make the shortlist of 15 in the category Documentary Feature. Now she brings up the titles of the shortlisted films on her laptop. Competition is strong but Jane believes that, thanks to the excellence of the team – the producer, director, cameraman, sound engineer and composer – the film might, just possibly, make it into the final five, one of which, on Oscar Night, February 26, will be chosen as the winner. If the film gets that close to Oscar glory Jane will have to rearrange her packed schedule.
She is supposed to be writing a book about plants. Fortunately she has a lot of it done already. But a previously unplanned trip to Saudi Arabia for the Jane Goodall Institute UK means Jane is not going to be able to make the February deadline. She grins “my publisher is used to that with me,” she says.
We end up swapping creepy ghost stories about Cornish Wreckers and haunted WWII airfields. A splendid ending to a day that was, as Jane says, “truly magical”.
Written by Gary Dalkin
Bournemouth Voluntary Coordinator – The Jane Goodall Institute