Handled with care

Posted on: 18 December 2013 by 50connect editorial

From 'Humanity Dick' in 1822 to 1.1 million calls answered in 2012, the RSPCA is making good use of money donated through gifts in Wills



More than 50 percent of the RSPCA's work is funded through gifts in Wills. Without this support there would be no one there to provide care for animals when they no longer have someone to care for them or have been abandoned.

Did you know?

RSPCA's 24-hour National Cruelty and Advice Line receives a call every 30 seconds and took more than 1.1 million in 2012. It is this type of service which is made possible by the money left through gifts in Wills.

Richard 'Humanity Dick' MartinA nation of animal lovers?

England had no animal welfare legislation until the early 1800s. There were a few individuals who recognised the need to create laws to protect animals and in 1822, Richard Martin, made an observation that is as true today as it was then – “If legislation to protect animals is to be effective it must be adequately enforced”.

'Humanity Dick', as Martin was nicknamed, would in 1824 become a co-founder of the SPCA (the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - the ‘R’ for royal patronage from Queen Victoria was added in 1840). The Society changed the future of animal welfare from its humble beginnings protecting working and farm animals to the organisation we know today working to end cruelty to all animals. They even received their first legacy from a supporter, a gift in a Will of £100 bequeathed by the novelist Mrs Ann Radcliffe to fund their efforts. This gift was recorded in the minutes of a meeting held in May 1826.

Why legacies are still so important

Here are a few examples of how gifts in Wills help the RSPCA today:

  • RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk built two fences and 10 hedgehog sheds after receiving a gift in a Will.
  • RSPCA Putney Animal Hospital in London re-developed their waiting room area and surgical department using funds gifted to them in Wills.


RSPCA Blackberry Farm Animal Centre Blackberry Farm Animal Centre, Buckinghamshire

In rural Buckinghamshire, RSPCA Blackberry Farm Animal Centre is busy caring for animals and preparing them for their second chance in life. Close to the towns of Aylesbury and Bicester, Blackberry Farm staff and RSPCA inspectors are there for the animals most in need.

As well as preparing animals for rehoming, they look after cruelty case animals, whose owners are awaiting trial or court verdicts and this can mean long periods of kennel and cattery time. At any one time Blackberry Farm can be responsible for the care of over 100 animals.

Blackberry Farm requires homing facilities as well as stables and a field shelter to look after small farm animals. It is equipped with an exercise field for the dogs as well as a training barn where staff concentrate on rehabilitation, training and education for pet owners, holding regular classes for all abilities.

The latest improvement at Blackberry Farm was only made possible by the generosity of a supporter who left a gift in his Will. This allowed the centre to build an on-site veterinary suite which will save time, money and will greatly improve the welfare of animals requiring treatment.

Julie Allen, Centre Manager, said: "It’s a wonderful thing for somebody to do for us and I hope a fitting memorial to the supporter. The vet suite will enable increased veterinary care of the animals at the centre by allowing us to have immediate access to a vet on site, rather than having to transport them and cause them unnecessary stress".

Joanna Curtis, RSPCA Legacy Care Manager explains: "We are so grateful for all the support we get of this kind. Regardless of the amount, it’s important that the terms of a Will state the intentions for the gift clearly. If supporters are interested in leaving gifts to help particular aspects of our work or geographical areas, it’s advisable to talk to us first to ensure we can accommodate your wishes. We also recommend that you always use a professional advisor when making or updating a Will".


How legacy gifts help

  • RSPCA rescued and collected 194,695 animals in 2012.
  • Animal centres and branches gave 55,459 animals a second chance of a new home and a new life in 2012.
  • On average every 30 seconds someone in England and Wales dials 0300 1234 999 - the RSPCA's 24-hour cruelty line - for help. In 2012 it received 1,163,428 phone calls.
  • RSPCA secured 4,168 convictions by private prosecution to protect animals against those who break cruelty laws.


If you would like to know more about how you could help RSPCA with a gift in your Will, see Leave a Legacy on the charity's website.  

If you have any questions regarding Home for Life, please visit RSPCA Home for Life or call 0300 123 0239.
Home for Life is a free RSPCA service meaning we will do all we can to find a new, loving home for your pet should you pass away.

The RSPCA helps animals in England and Wales


Supporting RSPCA through charitable gifts and legacies

This month we are supporting charitable gifts through wills and legacies - and you can help too!

If you have 5 minutes to spare, fill in this short survey and you have the chance to win a Gift basket of RSPCA goodies.  Click here to take survey

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