At the age of five, I was evacuated to an isolated farm in mid-Wales. I entered an unfamiliar world of animal agriculture, where I witnessed appalling cruelty which would stay with me for the rest of my life. I sobbed when lambs were castrated without anaesthetic, unwanted kittens were drowned in a bucket of water or pigs were dragged into the barn to have their throats cut. Brass rings were forced through their noses with pliers to stop them rooting and poultry met their end with a knife rammed down their throats. The people were not intentionally cruel: it was their way of life and, as we all know, still is, albeit on a much more industrialised scale.
Children are resilient and are mostly accepting of their circumstances. It is only later that bad experiences can surface and play a large part in shaping life.
In 1978 I was given an Animal Aid leaflet about the plight of monkeys in the Cambridge University labs. In 1979 we formed Animal Aid Cambridge. The same year, a national demonstration was attended by 5000 people. By 1983 we had 221 members and I was convinced we were going to change the world.
Animal Aid has come such a long way since then and I am proud to be part of such a respected, hard-working organisation. We may not have changed the world but we have certainly changed the hearts and minds of countless people.