Donkeys in The Gambia

572. Heather Armstrong (Surrey)

Heather Armstrong is the director of The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, a charity which provides veterinary care for working animals across the Gambia.

Experienced veterinary nurse Heather founded the trust in 2002 having growing up in West Africa. She saw that, without a strong tradition of horsemanship, many farmers were buying horses and donkeys at huge expense only for them to quickly die. As well as the suffering of the animals, Heather was determined to stop the descent into poverty this was causing for many farmers and their families. She has dedicated the last 14 years of her life to improving the health of horses and donkeys in the country, fundraising, coordinating volunteers and overseeing training and veterinary care.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Heather has worked tirelessly to support farmers and their families across The Gambia. Thanks to her dedication The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust is ensuring working animals stay fit and strong and are able to make a real difference to local communities.”

Sir Paul Beresford MP said:

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Heather for this well-deserved recognition of her important work. Amidst the many issues facing The Gambia today the plight of poorly treated animals can be all too easily overlooked and Heather must take full credit for her work in alleviating the suffering of countless horses and donkeys – many of whom have worked for many years only to be discarded when they become frail or unwell. I wish her and her colleagues the best of luck with their future endeavours and trust they  will continue with their important work for a long time to come.”

Heather said:

“I am absolutely overwhelmed to have this award and such recognition for our charity. We are passionate about the welfare of animals but we are also passionate about the welfare of the people who own them.

A healthy working animal can increase its owner’s income by 500%, so we feel that by helping the animals, we can also help their owners. The increased income means they can educate their children or afford medical help if needed.

We take a holistic approach to our work and we also involve ourselves in community development projects as well as providing veterinary treatments, owner education and building veterinary capacity in The Gambia. I could not have achieved it all on my own, we have a truly amazing team of staff who have been trained by all the wonderful veterinary volunteers who come out to help us and they should all share this wonderful award. Thank you so much!”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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