As I mentioned in Part One of this blog post, although the following Eulogy does include a brief summary of the work of ACC, there is also on the right-hand side of the ‘About’ section of our ACC Facebook page, a timeline called ‘Milestones’, which lists some of the main highlights of each year.
Just to re-cap, I ended the first part of this Eulogy with the thought that campaigning for Christian animal welfare is harrowing work: Not only did May and the rest of us have to expose ourselves to the darkest truths about the horror of legal and commercial abuse of animals, we also had to endure indifference, opposition and ridicule. But May always believed our work to be grounded in the faith that Christ Jesus is Lord of the WHOLE creation and that we, made in His image, have an obligation to serve as its stewards.
Over the years, May gained the endorsement of a number of highly regarded Church Leaders. We have had the membership of three Archbishops; and over fifty Bishops and Church Leaders of all denominations, including our President and five Patrons.
ACC has held fourteen Animal Services at Cathedrals around the UK. We’ve covered many topics in our campaign correspondence and this has been sent out worldwide.
Our main concerns have always been the animals who suffer in intensive farms, exportation, experimentation, the fur trade, bloodsports and entertainment, etc; and May had the sad task of campaigning on both the BSE; and the Foot and Mouth Disease crises.
She also travelled up and down the country giving talks at various meetings, conferences and retreats. Many students have requested research materials from us and our work has been publicised in magazines, on radio and on TV programmes.
In 1989 May had entered into correspondence with Cardinal Basil Hume regarding Spanish Fiestas involving animals and the traditional Catholic teaching that animals don’t have souls. Then on 14 January 1990 in a speech to 3000 people in St Peter’s Square, Rome, came the affirmation from Pope John Paul II that animals DO possess souls! Could that correspondence have been instrumental in this change of heart I wonder?!
In the late 1990’s May was nominated for an MBE award by two Archbishops and a Bishop in the House Of Lords; but sadly this was resisted by those Lords who were in favour of fox hunting.
In 2003, she contributed to the ‘Convention on the Future of Europe’ by writing a speech, which was read out to the EU in Strasbourg, by a Greek Embassy EU Official. Following an Amsterdam Protocol which recognised animals as sentient beings, May requested in the speech that the EU would now take measures to ensure legislation which would afford ample protection for animals. According to the RSPCA, 80 percent of UK animal welfare legislation does now come from EU law.
Her work resulted in many secular animal welfarists attending our Cathedral Services; and some attended the Good Friday Prayer Vigils, which for many years we held at Hazleton Laboratories, Harrogate. ACC has also made substantial donations to animal sanctuaries and to humane medical research.
May’s work has undoubtedly made a considerable impact upon Church attitudes to animal welfare. All of our Cathedral Services have attracted much media attention and this has encouraged many clergy enquirers to hold such Services in their own parishes.
May’s love was endless and she was dedicated to caring for and helping people as well as the animals who are so needful of human compassion. She restored faith to many people and comforted them in lots of different ways. I remember one clergyman, who rang her in great sorrow from Scotland to talk about the death of his cat. He felt unable to share his grief with his parishioners, but he knew of ACC and May was there for him at that time.
Years later she issued her booklet: ‘A Christian Experience of Pet Bereavement’, a tribute to her own beloved dogs, Chiquita, Ben and Tania. Over 700 booklets have reached out to people in their grief.
May’s life was dedicated to relieving suffering and bringing joy to others. I have so many happy memories of times spent helping her. As well as being highly intelligent, eloquent, compassionate and determined, she had a tremendous sense of humour. We used to laugh at her precision and attention to detail! She was always quick to correct any grammatical errors – I know, if she was reading this, she would be scrutinising it for my split infinitives!!
And, I am mindful of my pronunciation as I read this to you. Quite recently actually, I was talking to May about our St Asaph Services. She was really struggling with her memory by this time and I feared that she had forgotten those wonderful events. I asked her if she remembered our President, Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones. Clearly, still unable to let an error go unchecked, she suddenly piped up and corrected me, “Alwyn Reeeess Jones”!
May was a remarkable and truly inspirational woman, loved and admired by so many. She worked tirelessly for animals and I believe that, by introducing me to her, God has taught me so much more about His love and purpose for the WHOLE creation.
Animal Christian Concern and indeed the whole Christian Animal Welfare movement are bereft but I, like so many others, feel extremely privileged and blessed to have known and worked with May over the years.
Her work lives on today, as ACC continues to be a voice for animal welfare in the same name, but as an online organisation, where we now have a sister group, Shepherding All God’s Creatures, with a blog/website and prayer group.
I pray now that God will empower us to continue May’s wonderful work and maintain her legacy to try and build a better world for animals.
Our hearts go out to her husband Harry, son Jonathan, grandchildren Stevie, Eloise and Josh; and to all the family, whom she loved so much.
May will never be forgotten and will be hugely missed by us all, but her values and her passion remain with us.
As May could always put things into words better than I could, I’d like to end with a quote from one of her many inspirational articles that sums up what she wanted for the years to come:-
“Our battle for animal rights is a conflict which is running parallel to countless other battles for human justice, but I believe that our battle is taking place on the ‘last frontier’. At last our concern has extended beyond those of human self-centredness. We are at last praying and working for a restored harmony in the WHOLE creation.”
So now, Rest in Peace May – YOUR ‘mission’ on earth is done!
Thank you for reading our work and following our blog; we appreciate you very much! We hope you are Blessed by this article and will ‘like’ and share it with others. Many Blessings ~ Ros