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History

Paws and Passion

Cover image of Paws and Passion publication

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The National Animal Welfare Trust (NAWT) was founded in 1971 as an independent charity, and was originally known as Animal Welfare Trust (the word national was added in 1996 as part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations).

Early years

Our roots can be traced back to 1958, when the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) established BUAV Dog Rescue. The initiative to establish BUAV Dog Rescue was to stop dogs and puppies being bought at markets as a way of preventing them going to laboratories for vivisection. In 1965 the name was changed to BUAV Animal Aid, in recognition that all sorts of animals were being saved from vivisection.

NAWT founder Sidney Hicks
Founder Sidney Hicks and Misty the sheepdog

In 1971 BUAV members felt that the work of BUAV Animal Aid was departing from its aims, and it was agreed to establish a separate charity to be known as Animal Welfare Trust (AWT).

AWT remained under the auspices of BUAV, along with the Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, until 1979, when both organisations started to work from the Hendon & Aldenham Boarding Kennels - run by our then Chairman Mr Sidney Hicks - sharing facilities and staff.

The Dr Hadwen Trust is now completely separate from NAWT, although both organisations remain close.

 

The first centre: Watford

Cat pens from 1981 - 1982
Cat pens from 1981 - 1982

The NAWT purchased the Hendon & Aldenham Boarding Kennels in 1981 as its first rescue and rehoming centre. Prior to this most of our rescue and rehoming work had been carried out by volunteers and through renting space in commercial boarding kennels and catteries.

In 1986 NAWT purchased an adjoining field to our Watford Centre, which enabled us to improve the facilities for our large animals, and establish more exercise paddocks for the 120+ dogs housed on site.

The charity grows across the South of England

NAWT acquired Heaven's Gate Farm in Somerset in the early 1990s, and purchased our third centre - Trindledown Farm in Berkshire - in the late 1990s. Trindledown was established as the first purpose built home for elderly pets in the country, and opened in 2002.

Our centre in Cornwall came about as a result of the inspiring work of Molly Wyatt. Molly worked hard over many years to provide a rescue and rehoming service in Cornwall, and shortly before her death in 1996 she asked if NAWT would be willing to carry on her work. We agreed to and in 1997, we took over financial and organisational responsibility for the work in Cornwall.

Our newest site in Clacton was originally set up by Ann and Reg Sims in 1984.  It was entrusted to the National Animal Welfare Trust in 2011 following their retirement after more than 25 years of dedication to the care and rehoming of cats and dogs. 

The rehoming work in Thurrock is carried out by our local Essex branch, and operates out of rented boarding kennels.

The Trust today

Tico jumping through a tyre at NAWT event
Tico jumping through a tyre at NAWT event

The charity now cares for and rehomes around 1200 animals a year and is active in all the local communities in which it serves.

The most recent development at the Trust has been the opening of additional four charity shops over the past 18 months. NAWT now has shops in Watford, Falmouth, Burnham-on-Sea, Hayle and Clacton to help further promote our work and raise funds.

Over the years NAWT has had active supporters groups across the country. Whilst the numbers have waxed and waned, the focus of these groups has been on undertaking local animal rescue and welfare work, and on fundraising to support the work of the Trust.

Currently we have supporter groups in Cornwall, Essex and Somerset.

Read Tina Howard's account of growing up at the Hendon & Aldenham Kennels