A ninety-year-old Petersfield resident has scooped a prestigious animal welfare award that had previously been given to well-known celebrities and household names including Ricky Gervais and Linda McCartney.

Sheila Burkitt won the The Lord Houghton Award for services to animal welfare which is presented annually by four leading animal welfare organisations with each one taking it in turns to nominate a recipient.

This year it was the turn of the League Against Cruel Sports and its chief executive Andy Knott visited Sheila in Petersfield in person to hand over the award.

Sheila has been a loyal supporter and League volunteer for nearly 25 years and has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the persecution of animals in blood sports such as fox hunting.

Sheila Burkitt, said: “I’m overwhelmed and feel very privileged to have been presented with such a special award. It was a total surprise, and it means a great deal to me.

“I’ve hated cruelty to animals since I was a child and have always believed that the League Against Cruel Sports deal with one of the worst aspects of cruelty – to hurt animals for one’s own amusement.”

Andy Knott, chief executive at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “We hope Sheila is justly proud of her award – earned over such a sustained period of time – for creatures that have no voice of their own.

“Sheila is a true, selfless and inspiring champion of animals and is so richly deserving of this prestigious award.”

Sheila’s volunteering included campaigning on the streets, handing out leaflets, organising petitions and writing directly to people and institutions to support the work of the League.

The Lord Houghton Award was launched in 1980 to mark the work of Lord Douglas Houghton of Sowerby, a cabinet minister, MP and Peer who actively campaigned for changes in legislation to bring about improvements in animal welfare.

Previous recipients of the award include: Linda McCartney; Barbara Castle, MP and Baroness Castle of Blackburn; comedian and actor Ricky Gervais; and violinist Vanessa Mae.

The four animal welfare organisations that present it are the League Against Cruel Sports, Animal Defenders International, OneKind and Cruelty Free International.

Ends

Notes to editors

Enclosed are links to two photos of Sheila Burkitt:

Photo one of Sheila with her award.

Photo two of Sheila pictured with League Against Cruel Sports chief executive Andy Knott.

For more information or interview requests please contact the League Against Cruel Sports Press Office on 01483 524250 (24hrs) or email [email protected]

The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain's leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).