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In the 1960s Celia Hammond graced the cover of Vogue and lived a celebrity lifestyle, travelling the world on photographic assignments. Although she had become a vegetarian in her teens, at that time she ironically became one of the country’s top fur models.

After being contacted by Lady Dowding of the charity Beauty Without Cruelty, Celia agreed to fly to the Gulf of St Lawrence, as an observer of the seal cull.

Having witnessed the appalling cruelty, she immediately vowed never to model fur again and persuaded several top models of the day to stop promoting it.

This resulted in a considerable amount of publicity and Celia knew that she had an ideal platform from which to campaign against other issues – including factory farming, vivisection, and other animal abuses. Later this would include the live export of sheep, calves and pigs across Europe from the UK.

Celia became involved in rescuing, neutering and rehoming stray and unwanted animals. She learned how to trap feral cats, developing her own equipment, and started to trap, neuter and return to suitable sites. She fought many battles with local authorities, hospitals and environmental health departments along the way before succeeding in elevating the status of feral cats from near-vermin to animals worthy of humane treatment by showing that control could be achieved by neutering and not killing.

In 1986 she founded the Celia Hammond Animal Trust with the aim of opening a low-cost neutering clinic to control the feral animal population. The first of these clinics opened in Lewisham in 1995, and a second opened in Canning Town in 1999. In addition to neutering animals, the clinics and sanctuary also help to rescue and rehome animals – helping thousands of cats every year.

Celia’s work with animals became so all-consuming that in the early 1970s she gave up her career to devote her life to their welfare. Celia’s impact has been far-reaching and nothing short of inspirational.