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RSPCA recognises Senedd Members for animal welfare commitment

18 Jun 2024 5 minute read
As part of its 200th celebrations, the RSPCA has launched a new award

Five members of Senedd who have consistently given animals a voice have been recognised at an event marking the 200th anniversary of the RSPCA.

Carolyn Thomas MS, Luke Fletcher MS, Jane Dodds MS, Janet Finch-Saunders MS and Vikki Howells MS have been nominated for a special award at an event to celebrate the charity’s landmark birthday.

The event took place at the Senedd last Wednesday (12 June) and was attended by Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs Huw Irranca-Davies MS and RSPCA Chief Executive Chris Sherwood.


Sponsored and attended by Vikki Howells MS, guests of the event also heard from RSPCA Chief Inspector Elaine Spence and RSPCA Inspector Simon Evans, who spoke to attendees – which included MSs, local authority representatives and other charities – about their work on the frontline.

Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Huw Irranca-Davies, said: “Two hundred years is undoubtedly a milestone worth celebrating – and I’d like to both congratulate and thank the RSPCA for their work.

“I’d also like to congratulate those who have been nominated for this new award. Our ambition is for all animals in Wales to have a good quality of life and our Animal Welfare Plan sets out how we will deliver our Programme for Government commitments and other priorities.

“Partnership working is key to driving this forward and I am grateful to the RSPCA, our Local Authorities, animal welfare networks, vets, farmers and the public for their ongoing passion and support.”


This month marks exactly 200 years since the RSPCA was formed, and as part of the charity’s celebrations a new award has been created especially for the elected representatives who use their platform to advocate for animals.

The Massingham Advocacy Award will honour those who have advocated for animals. It is named in honour of Gertrude Speedwell Massingham – a trailblazer who served as the first RSPCA’s first public affairs staff member 100 years ago, and who would later go on to become an early pioneer for women in wider public life – standing as a parliamentary candidate in Petersfield in 1929, and Maidstone in 1931.

In his speech, Chris Sherwood thanked all Members of the Senedd who have taken action for animal welfare, and admitted narrowing down the nominees was an “extremely challenging task”. But he confirmed the nominees as:

  • Carolyn Thomas MS, who formed and chairs the Senedd’s cross-party group on animal welfare, while also championing RSPCA calls for more support for pet owning renters, as well as better protections for the companion animals we share our lives with, wildlife and biodiversity and so much more.

  • Luke Fletcher MS, who regularly champions animal welfare as a member of the Senedd’s Economy, Trade and Rural Affairs Committee and hit the ground running in terms of advocating for animals as soon as he was elected by spearheading calls for an end to greyhound racing in Wales. He has also backed RSPCA calls for legislation to allow pets to be kept in the private rented and social housing sectors.

  • Jane Dodds MS, another greyhound lover, who also plays a key role in the cross-party group on animal welfare and has also used their platform to advocate for better protection for the game birds in their region as well as many, many other animals.

  • Janet Finch-Saunders MS, who is another passionate advocate for animals both great and small – from pet goldfish to the many animals that can be found in Wales’ sanctuaries, rescues and rehoming centres – who never misses an opportunity to advocate for animals in the Senedd and within their constituency.

  • Finally, Vikki Howells MS who has been nominated after acting as a key voice in the campaign to ban the use of snares and glue traps in Wales; working with the RSPCA every step of the way to ensure that the ban was as strong as possible – including tabling RSPCA-backed legislative proposals to help encourage the Welsh Government to act.

An overall winner for England and Wales will be announced in August.


Chris Sherwood said: “We really are very fortunate to have so many Members of the Senedd who go above and beyond for animals. Across the Senedd, Members show their commitment to animals by advocating for their welfare, supporting our campaigns and calling for a better future for our fellow beings.

“While we all have a role to play in bettering the lives of animals, securing legislative change is highly important if animals are to be granted the much-needed protection they deserve.

“The RSPCA hugely values our close working relationship with decision-makers in Wales; and the number of Senedd Members we can specifically recognise at this event is testimony to the great strides we’ve made for animals in recent years.

“With the coming months having the potential to see even more positive changes on the legislative front in Wales, having the ongoing commitment and support of MSs from all sides of the chamber will be critical and we look forward to working with them all in the months and years to come.

“We’d like to thank and congratulate all our nominees of The Massingham Advocacy Award, and I can see that I have a tough job on my hands of choosing our eventual winner.”

The RSPCA has come a long way since 1824 – when founding members of the charity met in a coffee shop in London determined to change animals’ lives, creating the then SPCA and sparking an animal welfare movement that spread around the world.

Now – as the RSPCA enters its landmark 200th anniversary year – the charity wants to inspire a one million strong movement for animals, as the charity aims to “create a better world for every animal”. To find out how you can join their million-strong movement for animals visit

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