Pat Cavendish O’Neill

I just wanted to take some time to talk to you a bit about Pat, the 89 year old woman I have breakfast and lunch with everyday and who has had quite an incredible life. I will just give you some brief info, but you’ll probably realize that someone should write a book about her life, and yes, there are in fact two books written about Pat, which are a good read for anyone interested: A Lion in the Bedroom and A Chimpanzee in the Wine Cellar (They were even bestsellers in three countries!)

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Here’s a picture of Pat this morning

Pat’s Mother was born into the family that owned the very first vineyards in Australia, the Lindeman family (you might have heard of Lindeman wine). She was considered one of the six most beautiful woman in the world in the 1920s and 30s and ended up being the widow of four millionaires, one of them was called Viscount Furness, owner of a shipping empire and one of the world’s richest men and another who was the Earl of Kenmare, so Pat’s mother became Countess of Kenmare – fancy stuff!

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Pats mother, Countess of Kenmare

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Lindeman Wine

Pat grew up in a huge wealth of money, flying private planes, private yachts, trains, huge mansions in Paris, and Italy and apartments in New York. Frank Sinatra would come to the family’s house in Italy, La Fiorentina for holidays. Her mother was good friends with Coco Chanel, General Eisenhower and Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill even sent a private plane for Pat and her mother when they had to flee from France to Portugal under World War 2!

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Winston Churchill

Her brother received the title Lord Waterpark and was in the army his whole life. The picture above shows the certificate he received with the Duke of Edinburgh’s signature and Winston Churchill’s regards!! He unfortunately passed away last year.

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Pat’s younger brother, Lord Waterpark

Pat has always loved animals and at one point in her life decided to move to Kenya. In Kenya she found a lion cub who she decided to raise herself. Pat took care of the lion, Tana, as if it was her own baby and she even slept in Pat’s bed. Eventually when Tana reached six years old, Pat trained her to be a wild animal. When she moved to Cape Town, she didn’t raise a lion, rather a chimpanzee, Kalu. She still lives on the farm and Pat is just like her mother. Pat is one of the few people who can be in the same area as her as older chimpanzees can get very aggressive. She sits and talks with her for an hour every day. Today, she rescues cats and dogs and currently sleeps with a Great Dane in her bed.

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Mrs. Kalu!

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Big and old Madube 

Pat was/is (it’s complicated haha!) married to a man named Frank O’Neill. He is an Australian who was an Olympic swimmer and was the flag bearer for Australia in the Olympics of 1954. The two are still married but Frank lives with his girlfriend in Australia …. Oh yeah, and if you’ve heard of the sports/surf/swim brand O’Neill, well that’s her husband’s family brand, pretty cool 🙂

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A couple of years ago, the Cavendish family unfortunately ran into some financial trouble as Pat had trusted other people too much with her money and they lost everything they had. Pat had to sell all of Broadland’s farm, her furniture and valuable items.

Pat has also ran into another unfortunate episode, where she sold the movie rights to her book to a German film company. Without knowing, she signed a contract where the company can keep the film rights for life, but they have never gotten around to making the film, and probably never will. What’s pretty cool though is that Dominic West, an actor known from The Wire and Johnny English came to her farm a couple of years ago because he was trying to make a film of her book (but he was never able to do this because of the contract). So Mr. Famous actor chilled at her farm a couple of days and had a chat to her about her life!

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Just a last episode where Pat yet again didn’t fail to impress! I told her we were going to the hospital in Cape Town where the first heart transplant was performed in 1967, Groote Schuur Hospital. Well of course Pat was good friends with the doctor that had performed the surgery, world famous Christiaan Barnard.

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There is just a whole lot about this woman that just makes me laugh a little bit. Here I am, a young little girl from Luxembourg eating my meals with this quite incredible person who was raised a lion, a chimpanzee, has been surrounded by world politicians and people with more money than you could ever dream of, and around us we are surrounded by peacocks and suddenly a cat finishes drinking the milk in my cereal. It’s just all a bit comical for now, but an experience like no other.

I’m feeling very privileged to be able to experience this and I’m just trying to take in as much as possible!

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Victoria, who works for Pat is still working on her photography skills so you can only see our heads, but here is Sheila (who also stays at the farm), Pat and me

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Breakfast at 8am every morning! 

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27 thoughts on “Pat Cavendish O’Neill

  1. Hei Anna 🙂 Det var veldig hyggelig å få et par ord med deg på lørdag, godt å høre stemmen din. Så spennende det må være å møte disse menneskene som du gjør. Forstår at du savner jevngamle, men samtidig så tror jeg at mange av de du møter på din vei nå har et veldig ungt og åpent sinn 😉
    Du skriver så godt og det er utrolig fint å følge deg på denne måten. Mange flotte bilder, det er en fryd å gå inn på bloggen din.
    Kos deg videre Anna, vært stolt – det har du all grunn til å være ❤

    stooooor klem fra Hege

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  2. I so enjoyed reading Pat’s book about her lion. Any animal lover would be enthralled. What a wonderful lady who still manages to look glamorous. She is very clever and her memory gives us a glimpse of another world. Her stories of Kenya especially really amazed me. Thank you to come Pat for sharing her life stories and her love of all creatures.

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  3. I have just read A Lion In the Bedroom and couldn’t put it down! What an incredible life you’ve enjoyed Pat! I’m passing this around to all my family to read! We Africans sadly just don’t have these beautiful wild animals freely moving in and out of our rural areas very much anymore.

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  4. I am Portuguese & born in Malawi and understand her love for animals. Absolutely wonderful lady. Loved her book. I never got bored. She’s funny. Her story is to the point and very interesting with good punchlines. She will never get lonely with such wonderful and loyal animals around her. Thank you for book and thank you for being such a great human being x

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  5. Anna if you pick this up and are still at Broadlands I grew up having the privilege of Lady Kenmare, Pat, Frank, Sheila, Betty (Frank’s sister) too as part of my childhood. Lessons I learned from Pat about love of animals stays with me to this day and the exceptional lady she is. I have the fondest memories of my childhood on the farm surrounded by these incredible people. Please send my fondest love to Pat and Sheila. Enjoy your time in Broadlands and being surrounded by the wonder of all that you encounter there. Thank you for sharing this page – Adele Teperson Rifkin. I hope to come out to see Pat on my next visit to Cape Town if it suits her and to introduce her to my children and grand children.

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    • Thank you for your great comment!
      How fantastic to hear about someone who has Pat in their memories. Unfortunately I only stayed at Broadlands for 2 months, 2 years ago, but I will e-mail your comment on to Pat (well, she doesn’t have internet on the farm but I will make sure someone passes it on to her!!)
      Just to get it right, was it in Cape Town that you grew up?
      Pat loves having people over, so I am sure she would love to see you again! You can see all her animals that are on the farm.
      Take care,
      Anna

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    • Hi Anna

      Just to add to what my aunt said, my Grandfather (and Adele’s dad) was Dr Sydney Teperson, who was one of Pat’s physicians in the Strand. I too was lucky enough to visit Broadlands on many occasions and being in awe of Pat and her amazing collection of birds and animals which she cared for so deeply. I have one vivid memory of exploring the grounds with my sister, entering what I thought was an empty pig pen, only to be unceremoniously chased out by her very angry and gigantic hog! Magical memories I feel very privileged to have. Please send our best to Pat from the Teperson clan.

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  6. I read A Lion in My Bedroom a couple of years ago, then gave it to my daughter, who at the time had a Miniature Duchshund puppy. Coming home one evening from work, she found A Lion in My Bedroom in her bedroom – minus front cover and small pieces of paper everywhere… there really was a ‘lion’ in that bedroom… One of my five most loved books I have read in my life (and there were many) – but then, when you are an animal lover, you can not but feel one with her for her exceptional love for animals. May your days be filled with love, laughter, peace and contentment Pat and thank you for sharing this incredible life story with all who read the book.

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  7. Hi Anna,

    Is Pat still going with the Sanctury? Me and my daughter would be delited to meet some of the animals and make donations. Please let me know.

    Kind regards
    Sonja

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    • Hi Sonja! Thank you for your message.

      Morgan, who works for Pat is still working with the sanctuary and I am sure they would be overwhelmed with joy if you would like to make a donation and also if you would like to visit! 🙂

      I am unfortunately no longer at Broadlands Farm, but if you want some more information just let me know and I am sure we can organise something!

      All the best,

      Anna

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  8. After reading “The lion in the bedroom”…
    I met Pat in Kenya in about 1960..I was the wife of “Jean” who broke the car (Citroen) avec “Louise”!!!
    I came back in France,waiting news from Michael C.R.(Pat knew him)……
    Pat sent to me gentil letters from Fiorentina (I still kept those letters!! )
    That was a long time ago!!!and I am an 87 old woman!!!
    Please,forgive my english…
    I would like so mush have news from Pat….
    Jacqueline Dast

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    • Great to read your comment!
      I will try to get you an update on Pat! But she is doing very well and is still a happy loving woman living at Broadlands.
      I will pass on your comment to her through some people I know in Cape Town. I am sure she will be delighted to read your words.
      – Anna

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  9. Hello Anna. I love read “a lion in the bedroom” as it remind me rory Cameron who was the other pamela’s brother and a very talentuous decorator. He lived with my uncle gilbert occelli in the South of france but they died 30 years ago. When i was young i often went to La Fiorentina and she is not in italy but in the french Riviera In saint jean cap ferrat. I remember the big swimming- pool with sea water just in front of the sea. Unfortunately i never met pamela, but rory was often speaking of her. A lot of souvenirs… Thanks so much

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  10. Hello,

    I hope you can get me some information about Pat O’ Neill, whom I frequently used to visit when I was partially living in Cape Town
    I’m originally from Holland and moved permanently to Bali, Indonesia in 2005
    I have tried to mail Pat several times and the last time I visited her was in 2007, if I’m not mistaken but it might be longer ago

    I’d be very grateful if you can tell me if she is still alive, she’s a person one cannot forget lightly
    With kind regards,

    Elliot Smit

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    • Hi!
      Sorry about my late reply, I don’t check the comments very often.
      Let me see what I can do in order for you to get a hold of Pat. It’s not so easy because she doesn’t have Internet at the farm(!) but maybe I can get your message through someone else!
      All the best,
      Anna

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  11. Dear Anna. I was so pleased to find your blog. I hope you receive this note. I was a friend of Pat’s brother Rory Cameron, and had lunch with Pat at Broadlands on a number of occasions, along with Rory, and one time with David Hicks as well. I also stayed with Rory at Fiorentina. I had an apartment in Gordon’s Bay and the last time I had a lunch date with Pat about five years ago when I was in South Africa, she unfortunately cancelled because of poor health. I was very disappointed not to be able to catch up with her, since I miss Rory terribly. And now, my Mother (who lived in my apartment in Gordon’s Bay) decided to return to her home in England three years ago, at the age of 96, and so I no longer come to South Africa, but would love to know that Pat is well. I am also a great animal lover and worked at De Hoop Nature Reserve as a conservation officers and did visit the chimpanzees at the sanctuary a couple of times. I felt very privileged to know the family.

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  12. Dear Ann, I really need to write you a private message. Can I get your email? Or will you write me first? Please don’t ignore it. Best wishes, Ben

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