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HRH The Duchess of Cornwall opens 80th Anniversary Celebrations of Animal Welfare Charity at St Martin-in-the-Fields

News St Martin – Talking Points

Tuesday 28 January 2014

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall opens 80th Anniversary Celebrations of Animal Welfare Charity at St Martin-in-the-Fields

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall today officially launched the 80th anniversary of global equine welfare charity the Brooke.

The Duchess, who is President of the Brooke, marked the occasion by meeting long-term staff and volunteers from across the UK, before cutting a cake illustrating the charity’s global expansion since 1934.

The Brooke started life as a specialist equine hospital in Cairo, established by English woman Dorothy Brooke, and now helps over a million working horses, donkeys and mules each year across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The setting for the launch event today was the Brooke’s photographic exhibition at St-Martin-in-the-Fields in London. The images taken in India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Egypt show the crucial role of working equines in developing countries.

The Duchess viewed the images alongside the Brooke’s Chief Executive Petra Ingram and exhibition photographer Richard Dunwoody MBE. The former champion jockey joined Petra in presenting The Duchess with a framed Limited Edition print of Brick Kilns which was taken in Pakistan – one of the four countries The Duchess has visited to see the Brooke’s work since becoming President in 2006.

The Duchess spoke with a group of Brooke employees who between them have accrued 100 years of service at the Brooke. She also met with long-serving volunteers, including Fiona Bolingbroke-Kent from Norfolk who has fundraised and promoted the Brooke extensively for over 30 years.

Petra thanked The Duchess for her contribution to the success of the Brooke, which reaches more working equines than any other organisation.

“It was wonderful to see our dedicated staff and volunteers recognised in this way. The Duchess was delighted to meet them to hear first-hand about the vital work they do to help working equines around the world. We are grateful for The Duchess’s interest and involvement in the Brooke’s work, and the support she continues to give us.

“It’s an exciting time as we expand to reach more working equines around the world, and we have our volunteers and staff to thank for that,” said Petra.

The Brooke’s aim is to reach two million working equines each year by 2016.

The launch today will be followed by a lunch at Clarence House in February, hosted by The Duchess, to mark the Brooke’s 80th anniversary.


For more information and images, please contact the Brooke press office:

Tatjana Trposka on 0207 653 5824 / 07780689891 or email

Jamie Whear on 0207 653 5843 / 07795157838 or email



About the Brooke

The Brooke is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. The Brooke believes that animal suffering is preventable and that good animal welfare protects human livelihoods. 100 million working equines are the engines that power the developing world, doing the hardest jobs under the toughest conditions to support the livelihoods of 600 million people. That’s 9% of the world’s population. The Brooke works together with local communities to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of their working animals. With 80 years of experience from 11 different countries, the Brooke reaches more working equines than any other organisation. Last year, for the first time, the Brooke reached over one million working horses, donkeys and mules. The charity’s aim is to reach two million working equines each year by 2016.

The Brooke’s beginnings

On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke witnessed horrifying scenes as hundreds of emaciated horses were used as beasts of burden on the streets of Cairo. Dorothy, the wife of British cavalry officer Brigadier Geoffrey Brooke, was appalled to learn that these walking skeletons were once gallant war horses serving Britain, Australia and America in the First World War. When the conflict ended in 1918, they were sold into a life of hard labour in Egypt. Her pleas in a letter-to-editor were heard, and with help from the British public, Dorothy raised enough money to buy back 5,000 of the surviving horses. She then went on to set up a free veterinary clinic in Cairo in 1934 – the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital. This was the beginning of the Brooke.

Background on ‘The Brooke through a lens’ photographic exhibition

The Brooke exhibition, featuring photography by Richard Dunwoody MBE, is the first in a series of activities scheduled to mark the Brooke’s 80th anniversary in 2014. The exhibition visually brings to life some of the many challenges faced by equines and the communities that rely on them. It also reminds those who visit that while for many people in modern society animals are a luxury, for millions they are a necessity. The Brooke chose to work with Richard Dunwoody because of his talent as a photographer and his unique understanding of horses. The photographs were taken in India, Pakistan, Guatemala and Egypt over the past two years.