We caught up with the wonderful Mary Frankland, dedicated founder and campaigner of Dean Farm Trust.
Dean Farm is a charity and animal sanctuary that provides a home for life for ill-treated, neglected and unwanted animals. They campaign to help raise awareness and promote compassionate living.
The Vivo Team regularly volunteers at the sanctuary, and provides donations and sponsorship for the animals. It's a wonderful place where I would challenge anyone to come away not bursting with love for these beautiful animals nor inspired to take action.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and how Dean Farm came to be?
In 2004, I first learned of the immense suffering of animals used in factory farming, entertainment and sport. The more I researched, the more I was horrified with what I saw and read about. It completely changed me and I knew I had to do something to help these poor animals, whilst educating others so they too could make more compassionate choices.
Within weeks I became vegan and knew I needed to help. After months of researching, speaking with charity founders and organisations I started Dean Farm Trust, a charity that would hopefully rescue animals in need whilst opening its doors to help educate the public. To help me fund this I started my own recruitment company, Dean Healthcare. The sanctuary is a registered charity and now relies solely on donations from kind supporters, to care for the 200 residents who have a home for life with us.
What women have inspired you on your journey?
There are so many amazing women in the animal rescue and vegan communities, doing such incredible things for animals in need. My inspiration came from the amazing Juliet Gellately, founder of vegan campaign Group Viva!, along with Wendy Valentine, the founder of Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
Leading a small team of women at Dean Farm Trust is also very inspiring, we are all such different people but are united in the same cause, to care for our beautiful sanctuary family.
Have you experienced any bias in your journey and how did you deal with this?
Being vegan nearly 20 years ago was very different from today. I was discriminated against and many people thought I would not succeed in my vision to start an animal sanctuary. This did not deter me in my goal but it did show me that many people back then were not open to veganism. They did want to open their eyes to the horrors of animal suffering which, as a consumer, they had the power to stop. I think people also saw me as a bit weird!
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing the residents flourish at the sanctuary is just incredible. Some of the animals have arrived in just a terrible state and it is absolutely heartbreaking. With love, compassion and lots of care, we have been able to give freedom and a new life to some very vulnerable animals.
Like Billy, born blind and kept in horrendous conditions, who now lives with his friends and gets to feel the sun on his back and the wind in his curly hair. And Brambles, a miniature Shetland who has several health problems caused by previous neglect. Brambles is a spirited little fighter whose tenacity and love of life is just so inspiring.
Seeing visitors connect with the animals on open days, and leaving the sanctuary choosing a more compassionate lifestyle, is wonderful to watch. I love seeing visitors stroke Harriet our turkey, making the connection that she is an individual sentient being and not a meal. Education is so important in the work I do, because it makes a difference and saves lives.
What advice would you give to other women wanting to make a change in the world?
Don’t be afraid to try – If you have enough passion and belief in something you will succeed. No matter how many hurdles and challenges you are faced with along the way, you will overcome them. Even in the darkest, loneliest times you will find people along the way who will support you. Nurture those relationships, take care of each other and always lead with compassion.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be and why?
I long for a more compassionate world. All beings are capable of, and deserve, love and compassion, regardless of species.