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

How it all began (by Jean Pink, founder of Animal Aid)

To start an organisation from scratch with very little in the way of funds, premises or support is an interesting exercise. When I started Animal Aid, the amazing part about it was that, always at the last moment, the very person with exactly the right skill or the piece of equipment or the premises of just the right size and rent would appear as if by magic.

However there were times when I was at my wit's end to know how to proceed. At the beginning it was exciting to see what the postman would bring to the door of my house each morning, but over time as more and more mail began to pour through the door it became overwhelming. We were printing and distributing parcels of leaflets all over the country, mainly as a result of leafletting and publicity from our first successful demonstration against vivisection at Cambridge University as well as through small ads placed in national magazines. A friend came in to help pack up the parcels, working in a tiny boxroom with hardly room to move. These parcels were then hauled to the Post Office daily.

A retired GP researched current scientific literature translating experiments into laymens' language for use on our leaflets. Someone offered an electrically operated duplicator which we desperately needed. At some point it was clear that we could not continue to operate from the small kitchen in my house but it seemed inconceivable at that stage that we could afford to rent an office in the town. A successful businessman received one of our leaflets in London and offered to help. At a meeting in his office a few days later when I told him the dilemma we were in he suggested we run a raffle, distributing tickets to each of our growing membership (around 2000 by then) and he would donate the first prize (A crate of champagne!). The proceeds from that raffle enabled us to rent an office in the middle of town, hire a secretary and really move the campaign along. From then on Animal Aid grew and grew until 7 years later we had 13,000 members and groups around the country as well as contact with Animal Rights groups in other countries.

As time went by I learned not to assume limitations - just go ahead and do what was needed and not give in to fear and doubt. Of course there were problems as in any organisation and I was faced with my own limitations again and again. But to see how the work has continued in the past thirty years thanks to the efforts of many many dedicated people is inspiring to say the least.

I left the organisation because I had come to the end of all my ideas of how to bring about change. It was time for others to take up the challenge. I became involved in another way to bring about change which requires even more of the individual than starting and running an organisation.

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