With thanks to you at Christmas Christmas time is here again, and it gives us the chance to share our reflections on a year of incredible change and to share our thoughts on what we are expecting to be a cracking 2019 for the League and the animals we hold so dear. I wanted to start by thanking you, our supporters, for your incredible impact and loyal support as we made the vital changes necessary for us to reach our potential – to be one of the most influential animal welfare charities in this country. What we’ve achieved this year is just a hint of the role we can play, within the wider family of animal welfare organisations. A quick list of some of the things we’ve achieved or played a major role in: the Labour Party adopting a pledge to strengthen the Hunting Act; the National Trust under huge pressure to ban trail hunting; our 100,000+ petition against hunting in the UK; media exposes on stag hunting, and trophy hunting at Woburn deer park; pheasant and partridge shooting banned on Welsh public land; a new coalition campaign in Scotland opposing grouse shooting; a campaign against Yorkshire Water allowing grouse shooting exposing University of Wales for allowing shooting; increased work on greyhound racing; sponsoring anti-bullfighting marches in Spain and creating 12 new regional volunteer groups. Not a bad year’s work! Your voice Ensuring that your voice is heard has required us to increase our number of supporter care staff over the year. This has given us the ability to really get to know you, which continues to influence our direction of travel. People like what they hear and see - we had 50% more supporters return to us this year than we did last. Passion drives us all, and so it should – we are all doing this because we care so much about the animals we want to help. To ensure that passion is put to good use, we have moved to a more ‘performance’ based culture – that means what we deliver counts more than what we say. We, the staff, are the people who are entrusted with getting the job done, so for me this is an obvious route to take. We need to be efficient, professional and effective at every level. This has meant that some have lost their voice in our internal affairs as a result, with a few seeking instead to shout from the side-lines, which is sad. This can be noisy, but the reality is that your charity is a far more influential force than before: close-knit, compassionate and co-ordinated. We are now being driven solely by our aim to end cruel sports, rather than being influenced by individual egos. The effects of this are clear. The number of our investigations making it to the courts has increased exponentially, as have just about every organisational indicator of success, from staff retention, the number of animal cruelty cases we can deal with, to the huge number of people pledging us a legacy; some nine times higher than last year. The year ahead If this year has been characterised by change, what will define us next year? The answer, I am certain, will be significant successes we can bring by working together. We are now sitting at the top table with the institutions and organisations that amplify our voice and increase our attractiveness, credibility and success. We are engaging with law enforcement bodies at the highest level; political parties of all persuasions. 2018 has brought us to a position of strength as a team, a best-in-class staff, loyal supporters who are engaging with us more than ever, and with a largely new Board of Trustees, who bring the mix of professional expertise and focus that modern charities need if they are going to thrive. Ours is an honest approach, underpinned by integrity and courage. Add to this the mood of a country now calling more than ever for compassion to be shown to animals, be they wild or domestic, and I believe we have a once in a lifetime opportunity before us. A powerful, balanced, honest and appealing League, backed by the majority – be they our members or empathetic members of the public – will ensure we do not squander it. We won’t! We need you! For those of you that follow the League closely, I hope that everything you have read in this message is as familiar as your favourite pair of socks. For those new to us or dipping in and out on occasion, I hope it inspires you to do more. Indeed, it’s Christmas time and like many we have a list of presents we would like. Top of that is your continued support and those of your friends and families if you can bring them to us. We unashamedly ask for your feet on the ground at our protests, your signatures on our petitions and campaigns, and of course your generous donations that we require to fund the considerable ambition we have for the future. Christmas is a time for compassion and we thank you for yours, now and all year round. On behalf of the League and my truly courageous staff, we wish you a very happy Christmas and 2019 that, when it comes to animals, sees the things you want done, done! Andy Knott MBEChief Executive Officer PS A lady recently sent us a lovely message telling us she is donating her winter heating allowance to us. It’s acts like this that fuel our hearts and focus our minds.