OneKind has presented this year’s Lord Houghton Award for Services to Animal Welfare jointly to Green MSPs Alison Johnstone and Mark Ruskell.
The Lord Houghton Award has been given every year since 1979. OneKind, Animal Defenders International (ADI), League Against Cruel Sports and British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) (now Cruelty Free International), take turns to present the award for outstanding services to animal welfare.
This year’s winners were nominated by members of OneKind and OneKind Trustees made the final decision.
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:
“Animals desperately need champions who are willing to stand up and speak out for them, and Alison and Mark do just this. Their longstanding commitment to animal protection, dogged determination and willingness to speak truth to power deserves commendation, and I am delighted that OneKind members have chosen to recognise this in nominating them for this prestigious award.”
“Animal welfare is a devolved matter and yet making progress on issues like mountain hare culling and fox hunting is extremely challenging. There is, however, a growing voice for animal protection in the Scottish Parliament, and I hope that the presentation of the Lord Houghton award to Alison and Mark will inspire many more to stand up for animals.”
Alison Johnstone has served as the vice-Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Animal Welfare and taken a leading role in campaigning for mandatory CCTV in Scottish slaughterhouses. She is also the Scottish Parliament’s brown hare Species Champion, and has extended her brief to speak up for mountain hares too.
Alison Johnstone MSP, who also intends to bring forward a Member’s Bill to ban foxhunting, said:
“Thank you to OneKind for this award. We’ve always felt that Green MSPs have been the loudest voices in speaking up for animal welfare, whether it’s on the need for CCTV in all abattoirs or to stop the docking of puppies’ tails. Of course, there’s still so much we can do including a ban on fox hunting in Scotland. That’s why I’m bringing forward a member’s bill on the issue and as we know from polling, most Scots are in favour of a full ban.”
Mark Ruskell’s work on animal welfare dates back to 2005 when he was on the Committee examining the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Bill, a role he continues to this day as he is currently scrutinising legislation to ban wild animals from travelling circuses. He has also spoken out against the weakening of Scotland’s tail-docking ban, and recently lodged the Protecting Animal Welfare after Brexit Motion in support of maintaining the requirement to pay full regard to animal welfare in Scotland after Brexit.
Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Greens’ environment spokesperson, said:
“We are delighted to receive this award from OneKind. The welfare of animals has always been a prominent issue in the Scottish Green Party and we are determined to carry on campaigning to ensure the EU Withdrawal Bill does not open the door to needless animal suffering.”
The Lord Houghton Award was created in 1979, and previous winners include David Martin MEP, Ricky Gervais, Linda McCartney, and Gay and Andy Christie, the founders of Hessilhead Wildlife Hospital.