While much of the world’s media was focused on other events taking place at the Palace of Westminster in London yesterday – namely the state visit of the President of China – one the smaller function rooms in the House of Lords played host to a less controversial, but still important, event.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a charity dedicated to advancing animal welfare causes. For the past 15 years it has hosted an annual awards ceremony to acknowledge and highlight the work of members of the public who have gone out of their way to help animals in need.
Gay Star News was invited to attend yesterday’s annual ceremony, which took place in the Cholmondeley Room, adjoining a terrace overlooking the Thames.
Award winners were drawn from thousands of public nominees, and the ceremony was hosted by Baroness Gale and the naturalist and broadcaster Bill Oddie.
Baroness Gale praised the ‘dedication and loyalty’ of the assembled award winners, who between them have saved the lives of thousands of animals, raised money to help countless others, or educated the wider world about the importance of animal welfare.
Awards were presented to the following:
- • Joan Lockley, who picked up the Hedgehog Rescue Award after taking in more than 5,000 sick and injured hedgehogs to her West Midlands ‘Hosprickal’ center over the past 15 years.
- • Dorothy Beeson, who picked up the lifetime achievement award for running her own Swan Sanctuary for the past 35 years.
- • Sue Barton, who picked up the Equine Welfare Award for running her Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary for more than 30 years.
- • Martin Hemmington, who rescues foxes and runs the National Fox Welfare Society.
- • Pip Singleton, who picked up the Dog Rescue Award after running the Evesham Greyhound and Lurcher Rescue charity for the past 27 years.
- • Ray Jackson, who received the Education Award for running the Moss Wood educational nature reserve and wildlife hospital in Cheshire.
- • Samantha Bedford, who received the Wildlife Rescue Award for opening and running the Bedfordshire Wildlife Rescue – specializing in treatment for wild birds.
- • Tony Carlisle, who has raised more than £6.3million for animal charities overt the last 25 through the founding of the Great North Dog Walk – the world’s largest charity dog walk.
- • Husband and wife Roy and Annie Marriott received the Animal Rescue Award for running their Animals in Need charity. Roy set it up 25 years ago and met Annie when she began volunteering 17 years ago. Roy had nominated Annie for the award but IFAW had decided they were both equally deserving, and Oddie commented on how rewarding it is to meet a partner who share’s one’s love of animals.
- • The Animal of the Year award when to amazing canine Maisie, owned by nine-year-old Alena Hughes from Doncaster. Alena has type 1 diabetes, and Maisie’s super-sensitive sense of smell can detect when Alena’s blood sugar levels fall too high or low. Alena and Maisie both stepped forward to collect the award, with Alena thanking the organization, Medical Detection Dogs, for the training it gave Maisie.
It’s impossible to calculate the far-reaching affects that the award-winners have had on the wider world and the lives of thousands of creatures. Oddie commended them all and spoke passionately on the importance of promoting the cause of animal welfare to the wider world.
Speaking of the winners, Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: ‘Their stories are inspirational and we hope that their example will encourage others to do all they can to protect animals. They are all true animal heroes.’