Animal Aid : 30 years of campaigning for cruelty-free living

Diane Smith

Diane Smith

In November 1982, during the week that Channel 4 was launched, my husband Pete and I sat down to watch The Animals Film by Victor Schonfeld. The scenes of unremitting cruelty made us aware of the scale of animal exploitation and left us feeling isolated and distressed. Although we had been vegetarians for a year, we decided that we had to do more.

Shortly after this, we discovered Animal Aid and found out that there were things that we could do. We formed Lichfield Animal Welfare Group – later to become Lichfield Animal Aid. From the beginning, Animal Aid impressed us because of its determination to address all animal rights issues. This was at the heart of the local group’s activities.

The first demonstration we attended was organised by Animal Aid in Birmingham on 16th April 1983 to oppose animal experiments at the University. We walked from Cannon Hill Park, through the city streets to Chamberlain Square, where many of us were inspired by Jean Pink’s moving speech against vivisection.

In 1984 we became vegan, bringing up our three children on an animal-free diet from then on. Perhaps it was from observing their empathy with animals that I began to recognise the crucial role of education in developing compassionate thinking. I was encouraged to attend a speakers’ workshop and volunteered to give talks in secondary schools.

I now work part-time as Animal Aid’s Regional Education Officer, giving talks myself and also helping others to do the same. I’m delighted to have a role in putting across Animal Aid’s philosophy to young people, before they become desensitised.

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