Sir Peter O’Sullevan, who has died aged 97, spent his life in the racing world, as a renowned BBC commentator and writer. But behind the astute and kindly exterior was a dedicated campaigner for farm animal welfare.
In the 1990s, when the live animal export trade was at its height, Compassion was regularly holding “Ban Live Exports” demonstrations outside the then Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF).
Sir Peter would quietly come along and add his presence to our demo’, not seeking publicity or camera, just being there.
Around that time he happily agreed to become a Compassion Patron.
When he retired from the BBC, he set up his Charitable Trust and made Compassion one of the six fortunate charities to benefit from its work. Every year a huge fundraising luncheon and auction is held, and the proceeds distributed to the charities.
About a year ago, Sir Peter read “Farmageddon”, the exposé of factory farming co-authored by Compassion’s CEO, Philip Lymbery. Referring to it as “an outstanding book”, he immediately bought copious copies to give to friends who visited him at home or in hospital. So, even in poor health, he was doing all he could to spread the word.
In 2014 he updated his autobiography, and referred to Compassion as “the saviour for hundreds of thousands of farm animals”. He went on to write, “Compassion in World Farming as an international campaigning charity has a special place in my heart because I hold the simplistic view that harmony is unlikely to break out among the self-styled superior beings until we learn both to cherish and respect the “lesser” creatures who are our responsibility”. Beautiful words.
Those of us who met Sir Peter have all been touched by his honesty, warmth and great sense of humour. Compassion mourns his passing and thanks him for his commitment to the welfare of farm animals.