In 1999, back in Hackbridge Junior School in 6W, Ms.Wallace's class, we gathered round to see the animal rights leaflet which Ms. Wallace had brought in. We sat in disgust as we read about Proctor & Gamble forcing chemicals into monkey's stomachs. We needed to take action. The six of us gathered round a table after lesson, Me, Ben, Daniel, Charlotte, Zoe and Nicola. We decided to start a group for pupils to come to, which we could discuss animal rights in general. In the first meeting of organisers, we began to get a bit more organised. Names flew everywhere, 'Monkey Business', 'Help the animals' until I (I'm taking credit for this one) came up with 'Save Our Animals'. Backed by Daniel, this was agreed. We began planning for the first meeting.
Suddenly, out of the blue, a day later, Ms. Wallace announced to the organisers that we could hold the very first meeting of Save Our Animals right that minute, it was lunchtime. I ran out to the playground shouting "First meeting of Save Our Animals in Ms. Wallace's room, RIGHT NOW". This was followed by a loud series of screaming. I was followed back to the room by a large gathering of around 50 people with continued to overthrow Ms. Wallace's room. We could hardly fit in. I was shocked by the amount of people which had turned up and I think the others were too.
The first meeting was quite a success. We began by reading information from the leaflet. It was quite graphic and made many people pull painfully awkward faces of horror, ending with one person turning a rather hideous colour of green and having to visit the school office. With 49 left, we began the 'SOA Fund' - a jar with a slit in the lid which would collect money and send it to a worthy cause. It began with a few pounds. The fund was left in Ms. Wallace's room and gradually collected lots of money. After the fund, the meeting gradually descended into ordered chaos, with the gathering shouting rather random threats towards the animal testers. We ended the meeting abruptly and everyone ran out feeling energised but still rather useless.
I suppose I have Ms. Wallace to thank for my interest in animal rights. She was the one that brought in the leaflet which drew me in. Trust me, after you get into it, you can't get out; compassion won't let you. My mum also brought me up as a vegetarian, so I guess that I have her to thank as well.
The next meeting was fairly similar, with it taking less time to degenerate. I had great pleasure, though, in announcing to the group that through the first week of SOA Fund, we had generated £50.25. We voted to send the money to the local wildlife hospital, London Wildcare. Success.
After this meeting, that was it. I really don't have any idea as to why Save Our Animals never met again, my only suggestion is that it was near the end of term and the year was drawing to a close. All organisers left Hackbridge and went their own ways, leaving no-one to continue it. That seemed like the end for it.
After a couple of years, me and Ben, the other director of Save Our Animals, found a leaflet, the same leaflet that we used in Hackbridge. This infuriated us both; we got really angry that it was (to our horror) still going on. We decided to take action. Big action. We got online, started a website, www.thesoa.20m.com (it was free and crap) which worked. SOA was back in action.
After a while, the website's 'free advertising' became a little too annoying, so we began our own website, www.thesoa.co.uk. Within a few months of this website going online, we were receiving over 1000 visitors per month, which shot up yet again to over 3000 in January 2005. We discovered that the running of Save Our Animals was not going to be easy.
We began our first campaign, Close Bibra, in January 2003, after learning about an animal laboratory in Carshalton, about 5 minutes from our home. This seemed the perfect target in which to get our message out and get Save Our Animals known in the community. The campaign seemed to go well, with several people contacting us wanting to know more about the campaign and nterested in becoming involved in action. Now seemed the perfect opportunity to get a protest organised. A date was organised, the 18th of May 2003, and we put word around via email and phone.
The day of the protest arrived. Just as we were about to leave, the police turned up. Trouble, I thought, but as it turned out, they were there telling us how to handle it if things got a bit out of hand. Of course, the police at the protest went way over the top, arriving with two police vans, many, many cops and a few horse mounted police.
It was a great success. With this under our belts, we turned to a petshop which we had many reports of animal cruelty. This is the second campaign and is still ongoing.
All in all, Save Our Animals is no mean feat. It does have its down points, but there are more up points. It's great when you can meet with others that feel the same as you and can actually do something about it. This is just the start of Save Our Animals, we will continue to grow, and we will continue to fight for the rights of animals everywhere, and we will win.