Animal heroes from around UK receive prestigious awards

Wednesday, 21 October, 2009
(London – October 21, 2009) – Nine heroes will today (Wed) receive prestigious awards for their outstanding work for animals 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 with trophies presented by fashion designer to the stars Elizabeth Emanuel. This year’s winners include former marine Pen Farthing who rescues street dogs from war zones in Afghanistan, equine dentist Andre Majerski who gives up his holidays to treat neglected horses and donkeys in Greece and Jamie and Heather Dyer who rehabilitate orphaned and injured seals in the north of Scotland.

Schoolgirls Megan Brownrigg and Hannah Dewhurst will be awarded for tireless fundraising efforts for a host of animal charities while vet George Lightfoot is honoured for his voluntary work treating needy animals in South African townships.

A particularly poignant award goes to Ernie and Paula Clark for more than 30 years spent caring for sick and abandoned animals at their sanctuary. Sadly, since being nominated for the award, Mrs Clark passed away after a short battle with cancer. Her husband will receive her posthumous award and continue to run their sanctuary in her memory.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “These are very special awards recognising many previously unsung heroes of animal welfare from across the UK. We hope their truly inspirational stories will encourage others to protect animals in need.”


For more information, photos or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling in the IFAW UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7587 6708, mobile +44 (0)7917 507717, email or alternatively visit

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

Notes to Editors:

See below for full list of winners, awards and region:

PETS AND PEOPLE AWARD: PEN FARTHING. The former Marine Sergeant (40), from Essex, who now lives in Devon, rescued several street dogs from a war zone in Afghanistan after being moved by their plight while serving there. He has since set up the charity Nowzad Dogs to rescue other strays in the country and improve educational opportunities for potential vets in Afghanistan.

LIFETIME DEDICATION AWARD: ERNIE AND PAULA CLARK. Ernie Clark, 83, of Dagenham, Essex, will receive awards for himself and his late wife Paula, who recently passed away aged 76. The couple jointly ran the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Brentwood where Ernie continues to care for around 200 horses, ponies, goats, pigs and other animals.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR AWARD: GEORGE LIGHTFOOT. George Lightfoot, 29, from Suffolk, spent three weeks volunteering at the IFAW-funded Mdzananda clinic in one of South Africa’s poorest township communities on the outskirts of Cape Town earlier this year. Now back in the UK and working as a small animal vet in Croydon, the Cambridge Veterinary School graduate has also worked to encourage other young vets to volunteer with the IFAW scheme. Interested vets are asked to email

YOUTH AWARD: MEGAN BROWNRIGG AND HANNAH DEWHURST. Schoolfriends Megan and Hannah, both 17 and studying for A-Levels at Magdalen College School in Brackley, Northants, are being honoured for raising more than £1,250 for a variety of animal charities by organising events including a dog show, a sponsored walk, a car boot sale, a school auction and three Christmas parties.

ANIMAL RESCUE AWARD: JAMIE AND HEATHER DYER. Jamie (42) and Heather (36), from Castletown in Caithness, run the Highland Seal Hospital near John O’Groats. The couple often work around the clock to rehabilitate orphaned or injured seals until they are ready to be released back into the wild. Heather was forced to take a break from caring for the seals for several months to undergo a kidney transplant but is now fully recovered and back at work. Her and Jamie tied the knot earlier this year.

INTERNATIONAL AWARD: ANDRE MAJERSKI. Equine dentist Andre (61), from Harlech, Gwynedd, has spent his summer holidays for the past seven years working for free treating suffering animals on the Greek islands of Zakinthos, Kefalonia and Corfu. Many of the horses and donkeys he treats are working animals. Some of their teeth are in such a bad state that, unable to eat, they are slowly starving.

Animal Action Awards, sponsored by Nat Geo Wild and the People newspaper, 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. This year’s theme is Animals Under One Sky.

If you would like to nominate someone for an Animal Action Award for 2010 please write to: IFAW Animal Action Week, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UD.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare - As one of the world’s leading animal welfare organisations, IFAW has representation in 16 countries and carries out its animal welfare work in more than 40. IFAW works from its global headquarters in the United States and focuses its campaigns on improving the welfare of wild and domestic animals by reducing the commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress. IFAW works both on the ground and in the halls of government to safeguard wild and domestic animals and seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the well-being of both animals and people.

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