Animal heroes from around the UK to receive awards

Animal heroes from around the UK to receive awards
Monday, 21 October, 2013
London, UK

Animal heroes will tomorrow (Tuesday) receive prestigious awards for their outstanding work from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (

IFAW’s annual Animal Action Awards ceremony will be hosted at the House of Lords by Baroness Gale and presented by naturalist and broadcaster Bill Oddie.

This year’s winners include Elizabeth McDonagh, from Cumbria, who offers refuge to the pets of terminally ill people going into hospice care who can no longer look after their animals at home. Receiving awards alongside Elizabeth will be Niall Lester, from London, who rescues ‘death row’ stray dogs and cares for them at home until long-term care or new homes can be found and vet Helen Pringle, from Hertfordshire, who devotes her spare time to saving injured wildlife, from frogs to hedgehogs, as well as treating rescued dogs.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “We are delighted to be able to highlight the fantastic work done by all the winners of IFAW’s 2013 Animal Action Awards. 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.”

This year’s animal bravery award goes to Geo, a young German Shepherd-collie cross dog who suffered horrific injuries when he pushed 10-year-old owner Charlie Riley, from Essex, out of the path of a runaway lorry and took the full impact of the collision himself. He was knocked into the road then hit by the lorry again as the driver left without stopping. Despite suffering a broken back, shattered legs and damaged lungs in the crash, Geo pulled through and his proud owners declared him a hero for saving Charlie from injury.

Also honoured is renowned conservationist Ian Redmond, from Gloucestershire, for his work around the world protecting gorillas, elephants and other wildlife. Barbara Mladek, known as ‘Mama Hen’ from County Down, Northern Ireland, receives an award for rescuing and rehoming thousands of battery and commercially farmed hens. Elsewhere, Jayne Hayes, from Newport in Wales, is recognised for founding DogLost, a not for profit organisation which has helped reunite more than 35,000 lost dogs with their owners over the last 10 years.

Awards will also be presented to Lynne Parker, from Dorset, for her work to rehabilitate injured and abandoned birds and Ann Knowles, from Surrey, will be honoured for more than 50 years of dedication to rescuing and rehoming cats.


Stock photos of award winners are available in advance and photos from the ceremony, which lasts from 12 noon until 2pm, will be available shortly after.

Notes to Editors:
Animal Action Awards, sponsored by the Sunday Express newspaper and Animal Friends Insurance, are part of IFAW’s annual Animal Action Week which takes place around the world involving thousands of schoolchildren who are motivated to get involved in animal welfare.

If you would like to nominate someone for an Animal Action Award for 2014 please write to: IFAW Animal Action Week, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UD.

About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

See below for additional background on winners, awards and regions:

ANIMAL RESCUE AWARD: ELIZABETH MCDONAGH. The Penny Jones Animal Hospice was set up by Elizabeth McDonagh (56) from Hethersgill, Cumbria in 2007 after a terminally ill dog owner appealed for someone to look after her two beloved border collies when she needed to move to a hospice herself. Elizabeth, who has been rescuing and rehoming animals for around 20 years, has since offered permanent sanctuary to the pets of many more owners in similar circumstances and currently lives with around 90 animals, from dogs and cats to lizards and horses.

DOG RESCUE AWARD: NIALL LESTER. An Animal Welfare Officer by day, Niall Lester (31) from Abbey Wood, South East London, runs New Hope Animal Rescue in his spare time to find homes for unclaimed ‘death row’ stray dogs from around London and the South East which would otherwise face being put down after one or two weeks. He also rescues other dogs from dangerous and emergency situations. Niall ensures each rescued dog is neutered and chipped and works on any behavioural issues to ensure the dogs are more likely to be accepted by a rescue centre or new owner.

VET OF THE YEAR AWARD: HELEN PRINGLE. Vet Helen Pringle (41) of Ware, Herts has spent the last five years working as a partner in a small animal veterinary practice in Hadham, Herts but also devotes much of her spare time to nursing injured wildlife back to health and treating rescued dogs at a local animal shelter, Mutts in Distress. Much of her conservation work focuses on injured hedgehogs rescued by local organisation Herts Hogline and she believes no creature is too small to try to save.

ANIMAL BRAVERY AWARD: GEO. When German Shepherd-collie cross Geo was just seven months old he suffered horrific injuries when he put himself in the path of a runaway lorry which was heading straight for his young owner, 10-year-old Charlie Riley, of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Despite suffering a broken back, shattered legs and damaged lungs in the crash, Geo pulled through and almost a year later is a happy and healthy dog. Despite vet bills totalling £8,000, the Riley family never considered having Geo put to sleep and Charlie’s mother Carly believes her son would have been killed had it not been for Geo’s bravery.

CONSERVATION AWARD: IAN REDMOND. Conservationist Ian Redmond (59) who grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire, has dedicated his life to observing and conserving endangered species and his research has taken him to remote corners of the world. In the mid 1970s, while studying biology and geology at university, he contacted Dian Fossey and was invited to her remote rainforest camp in the mountains of Rwanda where he worked as her assistant studying gorillas for two and a half years. He later went on to discover several new species of nematode worms and frogs in New Guinea before returning to Africa for the first study of the cave elephants of Kenya’s Mount Elgon. Seeing the devastating effects of poaching on both gorillas and elephants, he has worked to highlight their plight to the public.

FARM ANIMAL WELFARE AWARD: BARBARA MLADEK. Northern Ireland Battery Hen Rescue, known as Nut House Hen Rescue and Re-Homing Centre, was set up by Barbara Mladek (49) from Moira in County Down in 2011 after buying her first four hens and since then she has saved more than 4,000 others. Her aim is to give former battery and commercially farmed hens a new quality of life with caring owners where they can live out their days enjoying daylight, access to the outdoors and be able to stretch their wings and feel solid ground under their feet, which many battery hens never experience. Barbara is so devoted to her chickens she has changed her name by deed poll to Barbara ‘Mama Hen’ Mladek.

INNOVATION AWARD: JAYNE HAYES. Around 35,000 lost dogs have been reunited with their owners since Jayne Hayes from Newport, South Wales set up DogLost 10 years ago. The not for profit organisation uses the Internet, social media, a network of volunteers and a helpline to connect dog owners with their missing pets, using a national database for lost and found dogs. Jayne founded the service in 2003 after her dog Hermy was stolen. The website has more than 100,000 visitors per month and Jayne now leads a team of more than 60 area coordinators plus extra helpers in the daily search for lost dogs around the UK.

AVIAN RESCUE AWARD: LYNNE PARKER. Bird lover Lynne Parker from Southbourne in Dorset has spent the last 21 years rescuing hundreds of birds, both wild and domestic and is often called on by local vets, residents and rescue organisations to provide emergency treatment, food and accommodation. She single-handedly cleans and cares for the birds until they are ready for release back into the wild where possible, or transferred to a local rescue centre to make space for new emergency cases. Lynne shares her home with up to 200 birds at any one time and rescues around 4,000 birds a year, the majority of which are returned to the wild.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: ANN KNOWLES. Animal lover Ann Knowles (70) from Cobham in Surrey, has spent more than 50 years rescuing and rehoming cats and runs Katz Castle, an animal shelter and cattery. She and her husband Jon (91) first got involved in animal welfare in the 1960s during the reconstruction effort in the East End of London, where many feral cat colonies were discovered. Ann cares for around 50 unwanted or rescued cats at any one time, with the majority being rehomed and others staying in her long-term care. As well as cats, Ann and her husband care for many other animals, including three elderly sheep saved from slaughter, chickens, dogs and tortoises.

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