What a privilege to be asked to lead OneKind as the new Director. I am absolutely delighted and proud to have the opportunity to be able to build and develop the excellent work undertaken by former Director Harry Huyton and the team. Thank you to all those supporters, members and colleagues that have made me feel so welcome in such a short space of time. It’s been a hectic two weeks, getting to know the team, dealing with some issues in the media and generally understanding OneKind’s governance and latest campaigns we are working hard on.
I was very fortunate to work alongside OneKind (then called Advocates for Animals) on areas of mutual concern during my previous career working in the conservation and wildlife crime sectors in Scotland. Very often this would involve problems and issues on Scotland’s managed grouse moors, and I am delighted to learn that a new coalition has been formed bringing together charities across the social, environmental and animal welfare sectors who all share common concerns on how our grouse moors are being managed. A new report will also be launched next week outlining the case for reforming Scotland’s driven grouse moors. Written by Dr Ruth Tingay and Andy Wightman it expertly outlines the issues we face in Scotland’s countryside today. OneKind is a partner of the Revive coalition and I intend OneKind to be undertaking further work around the serious welfare issues involved in the management of driven grouse shooting. I also have first-hand experience of what a heavily intensively managed grouse moor can be like. Around 13 years ago, I started working for the RSPB as an Investigations Officer and one of the first calls I received was from a member of the public who described seeing two large birds of prey lying dead on a grouse moor in northern Scotland. What a grim day that turned out to be and, accompanied by a police officer, I ended up retrieving the bodies of a dead white-tailed eagle and a golden eagle from that sporting estate. Both had been illegally poisoned.
Despite me working for most of my career in the conservation charity sector in Scotland, I was surprised that I actually knew very little about the foundations of our organisation and was fascinated to learn that we were formed back in 1911 by the Ivory sisters, two society ladies of Edinburgh whose passion for animals led them to establish the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Vivisection. I was thinking of our history when a call came in last week to our campaigns and media officer about a trophy hunter who had been on Islay shooting feral billy goats and a farmed sheep (ram). Many people, including Scotland’s politicians, were surprised and horrified to see someone posing by the trophy carcasses of shot animals and surprised this sort of hunting still goes on in Scotland’s countryside. We were kept very busy giving media interviews and the story was reported on widely, including national media outlets.
As we progress our campaigns and advocacy on mountain hare killing, salmon farming, fox hunting, CCTV’s in abattoirs and many others, we should sometimes stop and reflect on our roots and our history. I hope our founders would be proud to see us now and urge us to continue to do more as we remain committed to ending animal cruelty in Scotland. OneKind, the name builds on our founders’ original vision: a united planet, where humans, animals and nature exist together in harmony and the wonders of the animal kingdom are truly appreciated and not exploited.
Thank you for your continued support, as you will be aware, we don’t receive any government funding and depend on our supporters and members, you are the heartbeat that keeps us going.