The Vegan Society announced the winners of their first Future Normal Hero Awards - a celebration of those in the community who have gone above and beyond for animals.
This year, due to social distancing guidelines the award was presented virtually by Ecotricity CEO and Chairman of Forest Green Rovers Football Club, Dale Vince, on the inaugural Future Normal Day (9th April).
Ashwin Ahuja, who saved the life of a young bull named Rufus during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been honoured with the Animal Champion Award.
University student Ashwin was recognised for his relationship with Rufus, which started when Ashwin started taking daily walks through Cambridge during the first national lockdown. After befriending him and forming a friendship, Ashwin was desperate to save his life and, with help from his mum, bought Rufus from the farmer and reached out to Goodheart Animal Sanctuary in Shropshire who took him in.
Commenting on the award, Ashwin said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be an Animal Champion for this year’s Future Normal Hero Awards. This is all because of Rufus – he’s the real star of the show. I genuinely believe my daily walks to visit him got me through the tough first lockdown.
“And as our friendship started to grow it was unbearable to think of him being sent to a slaughterhouse and I knew I had to save him. I’m so grateful for the team at GoodHeart Sanctuary for giving him a forever home.”
Other animal heroes celebrated during yesterday’s ceremony, include Jay and Katja Wilde, the Derby farmers who gave away 73 of their cows. They were presented with Animal Champions by vegan MP Kerry McCarthy.
Actor Paul Higgins presented Hillside Sanctuary – the sanctuary in Norwich that agreed to adopt Jay and Katja’s cows – with Sanctuary Saviours and Manchester's Laura Chepner.
The founder of Primary Vegucation, which promotes vegan inclusion within schools, was presented by vegan writer, poet, musician and activist Benjamin Zephaniah.
The final award of the day, Inspirational Animal, was presented to Luca the lamb. Luca, who was born on Valentine’s Day this year but soon abandoned, was rescued by staff at Pear Tree Farm Animal Sanctuary in Somerset and now helps with interactive online classes, teaching young children the importance of treating all animals with kindness. Luca’s award was presented by Alex Lockwood, BAFTA-winning director of 73 Cows.
Mark Banahan, spokesperson for Future Normal Hero Awards, said: “Future Normal Day was created to get people thinking beyond the post-lockdown ‘new normal’ and to ask themselves how we want our relationship and attitude towards animals to be.”
All our winners are living proof of the kindness, compassion, and respect that animals need from us and we felt it was really important to thank them with these awards. It was also amazing to see that the celebrity presenters were so happy to give up their time to honour these people in our community.”
You can watch the full Future Normal Hero Awards video here.