Don’t blame bats! Go Bats for Wildlife

With a combined age of over 180, Ricky Gervais asks animal lovers to support Hampstead couple ‘Going Bats for Wildlife’ during lockdown

Hampstead-based husband and wife, Angela and Martin Humphery (age 89 ½ and 90 ½), are taking on a remarkable new challenge during lockdown in a bid to raise vital funds to help shut down wildlife markets across the globe.

Advised to get ‘out and about’ by their GP after Martin’s recent open-heart surgery, the couple saw this as a great opportunity to start fundraising and are currently undertaking a one-hour ‘fast trot’ around a three kilometre circuit on Hampstead Heath - a task they will continue every day for the next two months.

Animal champion Ricky Gervais said: “My friends Martin and Angela, who have a combined age of 181, are doing a sponsored walk to raise funds for the fabulous charity, Born Free. Check out the link. Please donate. Stay safe.”

The dynamic duo are hoping to raise an incredible £1million for international wildlife charity Born Free, to enable it to step up its efforts to persuade the World Health Organisation (WHO) to shut down wildlife markets, regarded by many experts as the source of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Born Free’s work has been something close to the hearts of Angela and Martin for some time. “We have been avid supporters of Born Free since Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers and their son Will established the charity back in 1984,” explained Angela. “This particular fundraising challenge came about after Virginia told us about a horrendous scene that she had once witnessed in Asia, where women were playing mah-jong together while tossing live kittens into vats of boiling oil. We knew then we needed to do whatever we could to stop wildlife markets and the ease with which these and other innocent animals are traded. Somewhat ironically, just a few months after that conversation, this devastating pandemic struck and the horrors of the markets, human consumption and trade, and how they had enabled this particular virus to spread, were thrust into the limelight.”

Angela continued: “Stuck in lockdown we weren’t sure how our fundraising could begin but then, thanks to the inspirational Colonel Tom Moore who raised a phenomenal amount for the NHS, it seemed only fitting that we too could push ourselves to the maximum on our daily walks - trying to raise just a fraction of what he did but this time for the beleaguered wildlife on our planet. We know that supporting Born Free’s efforts, and the coalition they have formed with so many other wildlife charities around the world, is the one step we, as members of the public, can take to help get these wildlife markets shut down for good - not only to prevent the decimation of wild species and the loss of animal lives, but to stop future viruses spreading to humans as they have done with COVID-19. We know that so many charities are asking for help at the moment and the world is a scary place, but we would be extremely grateful for any support we and Born Free receive as a result of our fundraising efforts.”

Virginia McKenna OBE, actress and co-founder of Born Free, concluded:
“The coronavirus pandemic, and its devastating impacts on the lives of people and the global economy, has brought home once more the immense risks that commercial wildlife trade and consumption also pose to human society. The warning signs have been there for years, but we have failed to learn from past mistakes. We cannot afford to do so again. As the world looks to recover from COVID-19, a return to ‘business as usual’ cannot be an option. We are calling on the World Health Organisation and other key agencies to work with governments, non-governmental organisations and all stakeholders to secure a safer and healthier future for wildlife and people alike. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful support of people like Angela and Martin and this incredible fundraising task they are undertaking.”

To donate to Angela and Martin’s ‘Going Bats for Wildlife’ challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/goingbats

To see Ricky Gervais’ message of support visit: https://vimeo.com/418896952/6b12b1c028

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