I first contacted Animal Aid in 1979 (at that time it was being run by Jean Pink from an ‘office’ in her kitchen!). I had no inkling of the impact this contact would have on my life and on those close to me. I formed a local Animal Aid group and we held regular fundraising events. Our jumble sales became quite famous in rural Somerset because of clothes donated from a contact in London – the queues outside would often be like a Harrods sale! Leafleting, collections, veggie ‘taste-ins’, debates and demos – Animal Aid’s work was groundbreaking with its hands-on approach and it was wonderful to be part of it all.
When I was thirteen, I went on holiday with my family to Norfolk, and picked up a leaflet in the holiday cottage advertising a local animal sanctuary. It was this single leaflet that first prompted me to consider what I was eating and challenge whether eating animals was really acceptable in this day and age.
I remember writing to The Vegetarian Society and Animal Aid after I got back from holiday. With their advice and support, I became vegetarian soon after.
I can trace my awareness of animal rights back to a family holiday in 1987. My parents had decided to take me (aged 8) to the circus. A protester handed me an RSPCA leaflet. I saw the show, but found it depressing to see elephants and other majestic animals performing clown-like tricks for the amusement of the crowd. I filled in the form on the back of the leaflet and became a junior member.
I am 16 years old. I have just completed my GCSEs and have now begun my A-Level course. I first joined Animal Aid in February 2005, when I began my campaign for animal rights and vegetarianism at school. I was brought up as a vegetarian, and when given the choice to eat meat, decided not to do so.