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What's On, Culture, Literature

Michael Morpurgo on Animal Welfare at The Oxford Literary Festival

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Sir Michael Morpurgo OBE – one of Britain's best-loved authors – will share his passion for animal welfare and the natural world as he delivers the guest lecture in honour of Compassion in World Farming founder, Peter Roberts MBE, at the Oxford Literary Festival.

Farms for City Children: The Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture – which takes place at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford on Saturday 25th March – will see the award-winning author of iconic books such as War Horse joined in conversation by the charity’s Global CEO, Philip Lymbery. The pair will take to the stage to explore the former Children’s Laureate’s passion for animal welfare, how he encourages children to develop a relationship with the natural world, and the importance of humane and sustainable farming.

This is the third time the Oxford Literary Festival has hosted the animal welfare charity’s Peter Roberts Memorial Lecture. The event, which starts at 4pm, was named in honour of the charity’s founder, a dairy farmer, who became horrified at the development of factory farming and the disconnect between modern agriculture and the well-being of animals and the environment. It was set up from the kitchen table of his Hampshire dairy farm in 1967.

Sir Michael, who is also a Compassion in World Farming Visionary, founded the charity Farms for City Children with his wife, Clare, more than 40 years ago and describes it as ‘his best story ever’. Many of his best-known works feature a relationship with the natural and animal world at their heart. The three farms run by the charity have been visited by 100,000 children from UK cities. They promote a vision of a world where all children and young people benefit from being connected to food, farming and the natural world.

Philip Lymbery, Global CEO of Compassion in World Farming, said: “I’m very much looking forward to introducing Sir Michael at this special event honouring our founder, Peter Roberts MBE. He would be proud that, today, Compassion is an influential global movement, achieving profound and enduring advancements in farm animal welfare whilst highlighting the destructive impacts of factory farming not only on animals, farmed and wild, but on people and our planet.

“He would also feel privileged to have such a well-respected and accomplished author as Michael Morpurgo speaking in his honour. Sir Michael’s ability to engage with young people is renowned. There has never been a more important time to ensure all children and young people benefit from being connected to food, farming and the natural world.

The event is part of a series taking place at the Festival under the banner, Pasture to Plate, that looks at the environmental and health benefits of raising food on pasture and getting it to the consumer quickly through a short supply chain.

As part of this series, Philip will be taking part in three events at the Festival. First, at 10am, he will be in conversation at the Sheldonian Theatre with National Food Strategy author, Henry Dimbleby, in a session called Ravenous: Why our appetite is killing us and the planet. This highly topical event will see Philip and the ‘food tsar’ discuss why the food system is leading us to disaster and what we can all do about it.

Then at 2pm that afternoon, Philip will also be interviewing president of the non-profit group, Mercy for Animals, Leah Garces, about her new book, Grilled. The event, called Grilled: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry, tells the story of how she befriended the owners of American megafarms and worked alongside them to improve conditions in the American chicken industry and takes place at the Oxford Martin School Seminar Room.

The following day, at 12pm, Sir Michael will be hosting another event at the Sheldonian in association with Compassion in World Farming. At the Tales from the Farm: Writing about Nature, Animals and the Landscape event, the Running Wild author will talk about how nature, animals and the landscape inspire his writing and read his latest books Tales from the Farm.

For further details of all the events and for ticket information visit the Oxford Literary Festival website.

Image Credit: © Martin Usborne/CIWF

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