Yesterday we celebrated one of the highlights in IFAW UK’s calendar – our much-anticipated Animal Action Awards. This was my first awards and an opportunity to see the fantastic work people do for animals in the UK.
The House of Lords is the location for the event and offers us a fitting venue to honour such a special group of people who do inspiring work to protect animals both here and overseas.
The 2019 awards happened during an important year for IFAW as we celebrate 50 years of existence. From our humble beginnings we have grown to have a global presence and voice for animals and have delivered a long list of critical work over five decades.
One of IFAW’s strengths is to find the right blend of two very different geographies. On one hand IFAW has always strived to put in place long-term, sustainable work to create lasting change for animals and often this has required innovative thinking and ideas and approaches different to the norm.
At the same time, the plight of animals has always been present and we have never shied away from being there when it matters. IFAW has never been afraid to take bold action when necessary. Whether it be a disaster or a wildlife rescue, we make sure we are there.
Our annual event at the House of Lords is our way of saying thank you to just some of the many people who devote their time to improving the lives of animals in need. It is about crediting the bold action taken by individuals in the UK for animals. We enjoy hearing the stories of our fellow animal advocates and find their selfless work and achievements very motivating; and I am sure that many others do too. Their amazing stories inspire us to work harder in protecting the animals that share our planet and I hope they inspire many more people too.
Between them, our 2019 winners have helped a countless number of animals, from dogs and cats to hedgehogs, rhinos and even the pine marten. We were pleased that each of them was able to take a rare break from their work to attend our ceremony and receive their trophies from conservationist and TV legend Bill Oddie.
We were also pleased to have along our Animal of the Year, springer spaniel Diesel. Ten-year-old Diesel works with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and his specialist skills are also used by the UK International Search and Rescue Team, which assists after earthquakes and other natural disasters overseas. In 2015 Diesel was deployed to search for survivors of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. His primary day-to-day role is urban search and rescue, searching for survivors when buildings collapse. He is also used to help in searches for vulnerable missing persons.
Everyone at IFAW would like to extend their thanks to all of this year’s winners for their tremendous commitment to protecting animals. Every year we receive dozens of nominations for award winners. It is no easy task to pick just a few to receive an award but it is gratifying that so many people around the country are working tirelessly to improve animal welfare.
Thank you to all of the winners for everything you do to help people and animals thrive together.
This year’s full list of winners:
- Pauline and Keith Marley, from Aberdeenshire, for rehabilitating 15,000 wild animals and birds in need at their rescue centre
- Elisa Best, from Bristol, for helping orphaned rhinos and other threatened African wildlife with her Blankets for Baby Rhinos charity.
- Diesel the springer spaniel, from Aberdeenshire, for life-saving search and rescue at home and abroad.
- Helen Renshaw, from London, for helping sick and injured horses in Egypt.
- Jo Collins, from Ipswich, for her work rescuing stranded seals and other marine mammals.
- Kim Cooling, from London, for improving the lives of thousands of street dogs in Sri Lanka.
- Linda Hewett, from Portsmouth, for rescuing injured and orphaned hedgehogs.
- Trudie James, from London, for years of tireless work rehoming abandoned and mistreated dogs in the UK.
- Stuart Edmunds, for dedication to researching and protecting the elusive British pine marten.