Animal heroes from around the UK to receive awards

Monday, 17 October, 2011
Animal heroes will tomorrow (Tue) 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 Queen legend Brian May.

This year’s winners include TV favourite Rolf Harris in recognition of his life’s work with animals and his campaigning against the Canadian commercial seal hunt. Receiving awards alongside Rolf Harris will be Obi, a Metropolitan Police dog which suffered a fractured skull while on duty during this summer’s London riots and Sue Gessey, from Birmingham, who uses alternative healing therapy to rehabilitate neglected and unwanted horses.

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 2011 Animal Action Awards. We hope their truly inspirational stories will encourage others to do all they can to protect animals.”

Badger protection group Badger Watch and Rescue Dyfed will be honoured for its work rescuing injured and orphaned badgers and campaigning against badger baiting and culls, while Jenny Clark from Sussex receives an education award for running a  bat hospital and teaching people of all ages about the need for bat conservation. Elsewhere, a community award goes to Juanita Wilson from Scotland for her tireless work providing sanctuary for hundreds of animals from ferrets to emus at her community farm.

Exotic animal rescuer Pam Mansfield from Peterborough wins the pet rescue award for her refuge for unwanted pets and zoo animals ranging from snakes to an alligator. The campaigner award goes to Denise Ward from Gloucestershire who reveals the truth about hunting with dogs in her film ‘A Minority Pastime’ while Anne Brummer from Surrey receives the wildlife rescue award for treating thousands of injured and orphaned wild animals and birds.

Last but not least, another four-legged winner is honoured. Greyhound Danny, who lives in Northants with owner Tony Nevett, wins the amazing animal award for his work as a listening dog, helping children improve their reading skills.


Notes to Editors:
Animal Action Awards, supported 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 elephant conservation.

If you would like to nominate someone for an Animal Action Award for 2012 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. Photos and video are available at

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

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

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: ROLF HARRIS. Much-loved TV presenter, artist and musician Rolf Harris (81) has had a lifelong love of animals. He presented BBC1’s hit show ‘Animal Hospital’ for 10 years, covering many aspects of animal care and welfare. He has used his public profile to raise animal welfare issues close to his heart, particularly the plight of young harp seals in Canada, killed in their thousands every year to provide fur for the fashion industry. Rolf felt so strongly about the commercial hunt that he penned a protest song ‘Slaughter on the Ice’ to campaign for an end to the hunt.

ANIMAL BRAVERY AWARD: OBI THE GERMAN SHEPHERD. Metropolitan Police dog Obi suffered a fractured skull while on duty during this summer’s London riots. The three-year-old German Shepherd, based at West Drayton Police Station in Middlesex, was on frontline duties alongside handler PC Phil Wells (30) in Tottenham in August when they came under heavy bombardment from bottles, bricks, street furniture and petrol bombs thrown by rioters. After being signed off work to allow for a full recovery, Obi later returned to lighter duties and last week received the all-clear to return to full duties.

SPECIAL CARE AWARD: SUE GESSEY. Animal Healing Trust founder Sue Gessey (45) from Birmingham cares for homeless and suffering horses and gives them a secure home to live out their days. Some horses bound for slaughterhouses have been rescued, along with others previously used for laboratory testing. Sue uses alternative therapies including reiki, crystal therapy, homeopathy and aromatherapy in the care and treatment of the animals.

CONSERVATION AWARD: BADGER WATCH AND RESCUE DYFED. Badger Watch and Rescue Dyfed was founded 35 years ago after Michael Sharratt (75) from Carmarthenshire in Wales became aware of badger baiting in the area. The organisation now has 80 members working to protect and rescue badgers across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. The group opposes badger culling and also runs three rescue centres for injured and orphaned badgers which are always released back into the wild after rehabilitation. Michael Sharratt and group secretary Gordon Lumby will receive the award on behalf of Badger Watch and Rescue Dyfed.
EDUCATION AWARD: JENNY CLARK. Founder of the Sussex Bat Hospital, Jenny Clark (67), from Forest Row in Sussex, receives her award for almost 30 years of tireless work protecting bats. After nursing her first bat back to health in 1984 she joined her local bat group and offered to take in any injured bats from the RSPCA. Now one of the most respected bat carers in the UK, Jenny voluntarily provides an emergency rescue and care service which treats hundreds of sick and injured bats each year in East and West Sussex. She also finds time to educate young people about the need for bat conservation.

COMMUNITY AWARD: JUANITA WILSON. Founder and manager of Mossburn Community Farm, Juanita Wilson (64), from Lockerbie in Scotland, has worked for more than 20 years to provide sanctuary to a wide variety of animals, from ferrets to horses. The centre was originally set up as an equine charity but Juanita now takes in all kinds of abused, neglected and unwanted animals. She currently provides a home for horses, ponies, pigs, ferrets, sheep, cattle, emus, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits and a turkey.

PET RESCUE AWARD: PAM MANSFIELD. The Exotic Pet Refuge in Peterborough was set up in 1984 by Pam Mansfield (61) with her late husband Mel. The couple started caring for animals in their home when they rescued an unwanted snake and soon more and more creatures were being brought to them for help. The refuge now houses more than 350 different animals taken in from zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and owners no longer able to look after them, as well as injured wildlife. It is currently home to 30 primates, two lynx, two wolves, a porcupine, an ocelot, otters, raccoons, snakes, reptiles, birds and an alligator.

CAMPAIGNER AWARD: DENISE WARD. In October 2005, Denise Ward (59), from the Slad Valley in Gloucestershire, had a shocking encounter with her local hunt when hounds rampaged through her village, attacking a screaming deer. She was so affected by the experience and also other hunt-related incidents that people have reported to her that she worked with an independent filmmaker to create ‘A Minority Pastime’. The film follows Denise as she embarks on a personal journey to find the truth behind hunting with dogs. It examines the conduct of hunts since the hunting ban was introduced in 2005 and questions whether some hunts really are acting within the law. An updated version of the original film, which is narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart, has just been finalised and the extended trailer was previewed at the recent Labour Party Conference.

WILDLIFE RESCUE AWARD: ANNE BRUMMER. Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue is run by Anne Brummer (45) from Camberley in Surrey. Her work with wildlife started 25 years ago with the care of a hedgehog. In subsequent years she has dedicated more and more time to rescuing animals and in 1998 set up her rescue centre, which is supported by Queen’s Brian May. Last year it cared for more than 1,600 animals and is dedicated to helping injured and orphaned wild animals and birds, nurturing them back to health then releasing them back into the wild.

AMAZING ANIMAL AWARD: DANNY THE GREYHOUND. Two-year-old listening greyhound Danny works as part of a literacy scheme for young children and those with special needs. From their base in Wellingborough, Northants, owner Tony Nevett (42) and Danny visit primary schools and libraries across Staffordshire, Devon and Kent. Danny was trained with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme. The scheme, which originated in the US, aims to improve children’s reading and communication skills through a unique method – reading to a dog. Children are encouraged to read aloud in front of a non-judgemental audience, helping them to improve their self-confidence and ability.

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