With great sadness, we mourn the passing of our Patron, Sir Peter O’Sullevan, who died aged 97. Many will remember his distinctive voice as renowned BBC racing 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. 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.
Sir Peter was a man of extraordinary warmth, care and compassion. Being in his presence was always the greatest of privileges. We mourn his passing and give grateful thanks to him for his tireless commitment to animal welfare.