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Knowledge

What Makes Me: Lady Bathurst

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“I am absolutely passionate about this charity and what it does because I know what these extraordinary service animals do”
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The Right Honourable Countess Bathurst, affectionately known as Lady B, has long been involved in her local community. She lives with the Earl (and her beloved dogs) at Cirencester Park and has served as president and patron of many local charities, as well as a stint as High Sheriff of Gloucestershire and Ambassador for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for the county.

In Mary 2022 she founded a new charity, the National Foundation for Retired Service Animals (NFRSA) and has since tirelessly raised funds and awareness in support of faithful animals who have spent their lives in service. In 2023 she cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats, joined along the way by high profile supporters including Ben Miller, Jackie Llewellyn Bowen and Nick Knowles. As she traversed the UK she visited emergency service stations to hear stories of real people and their animal partners from Police, Prison, Fire and Rescue, Border Force and Police Scotland. They inspired her to press on, and we wanted to find out

What Makes Lady Bathurst

Happy?

Nothing makes me happier than to be giving money to retired service animals: it is genuinely what gives me joy. What else makes me happy? Being with my dogs and going for a very long quiet walk in our woods. It’s a very selfish thing to say – I should be saying ’world peace’ – but being at one with nature, not being contactable, and because I live a crazy life, the solitude brings me much needed peace.

Sad?

Cruelty to animals really upsets me. And I’d also say that today’s society makes me sad. The mainstream media seem to concentrate on the negative rather than the positive. I wish we could make more of what’s good in this world. Yes, bad things happen- we can’t brush them away, but surely we could balance that with more positivity. 

Confident?

I’m not very confident, I’m always questioning myself – nobody needs to judge me, as I do that perfectly well myself. I think over-confidence is a mistake, you should always question what you do.

Passionate?

The NFRSA. I’m determined to drive forward with it. I am absolutely passionate about this charity and what it does because I know what these extraordinary service animals do, and I’ve seen them in action. I've seen them training and I’ve talked to their handlers, and they are extraordinary.

Excited?

I eat, sleep, dream, breathe, and live this charity and so I’m afraid my answers are centred around it, because that is the centre of my being. Working with my colleagues who sit on the management committee and who are as passionate as I am; being with like-minded people is such a privilege. And I’m excited for the future of the NFRSA because we have huge ideas. I think I need more hours in the day - twenty-four is not enough.

Proud to be a woman?

I’m not a feminist. I don't subscribe. When I was High Sheriff I was frustrated when I was asked ‘what’s it like to have all the high offices in Gloucestershire being filled by women?’ (Bishop, Chief Constable, Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff and Governors of all three prisons). Who cares? It’s the best person for the job. I love what other women are achieving, I love what other men are achieving, I’m just not a feminist. 

The National Foundation for Retired Service Animals is a registered charity supporting retired dogs and horses from the Police, Fire, Prison, Border Force, and National Crime Agency services. Once their careers come to an end, there is no longer financial support available to cover food, kennels, stables or even medical and vet bills which can be challenging, especially as they’re older and many have sustained injury during service. Financial pressure can lead to them being separated from their handlers, which is tragic. The NFRSA is working to ensure “these wonderful animals can stay where they belong, with the families they love, as the years advance. It’s the least they deserve when they’ve devoted most of their lives to keeping us, the public, safe.”

nfrsa.org.uk

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