Putting the focus on animals, persecuted for sport, must be the priority for our charity. It’s why I became a trustee, and it’s what drives me now as Chair. In this, my first blog, I wanted to share my thoughts and observations on how we are going about this and why it is so important that we fix our eyes on the prize.

A few weeks ago, the Board met for the weekend to review our longer-term strategy. We think we can and should be more ambitious. Amongst other things, we have moved from a position of trying to strengthen the Hunting Act, to now wanting to end hunting with dogs altogether. We have also pledged to end organised animal fighting, to include all animals subjected to such cruelty, not just dogs.
This is not a rewording exercise, it is a raising of our sights in a way that reflects our growing capability and credibility throughout the organisation. Changes to the Hunting Act, for example, will only work if the law is effective and it is enforced. Hunting with dogs must become as socially unacceptable as drink driving. We can do that.

We need to speak and reach out to everyone, to prick their consciousness and to bring them to our cause. Only then will we end cruel sport – not only because it is illegal – but because it is truly unacceptable and everyone feels it, as well as knows it. We want to play our part in building a kinder society, one where (as our recent Survation poll illustrates) the vast majority of people want to observe nature rather than persecute it. Let’s win the hearts and minds of a broader audience through the compelling nature of our message and the courage of our actions.

We are a Charity that stands up for animals - at the forefront of campaigns, as well as in the field defending them. We will continue to demonstrate our determination, expertise and courage. Our people have that in sack loads! It’s complex and not surprisingly we face a broad range of challenges. Sadly, this includes one challenge I had really not expected: responding to issues brought on by a few detractors who claim to be animal welfare supporters but seem intent on attacking us for their own reasons. False and malicious statements are being made in the press and on social media designed to harm the League.  After many months and several pleas to cease, we have had to take action against some individuals. This has included legal remedy.

We are also delighted that the Charity Commission has written to us regarding the allegations made to them late last year, brought by an ex-official. Their advice to us was in line with what we had already done; principally to sanction bad behaviour and to protect the Charity from harm. Their letter recognises  our approach, our management and trust; essential elements for any successful organisation. We welcome their letter and their continued backing in our approach to safeguard the reputation of the Charity.

Lastly, we have, as requested by the membership at the last AGM, reviewed the existing constitution and drafted a new one rectifying a number of issues which needed attention and meeting the requirements of the Charity Commission.  This new draft will be presented to members very soon and then voted on at an EGM which will be arranged shortly. I look forward to seeing members there.  For those unable to join us at an EGM I urge you to support the League and express you views by submitting a proxy vote.   Watch this space!

Dr Tim Holmes

Chair of the Board of Trustees