Thursday, 17 February 2011

Maria Dickin and the PDSA cemetery.

Hello everyone.

Over the last few postings on my blog I have highlighted one or two very brave dogs who have been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal. The PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex is also the final resting place for 12 of the recipients of the Dickin Medal. (The animals’ Victoria Cross - awarded for bravery during World War II.)
An early photograph

In 2006/7, thanks to a grant from The People’s Millions project, the cemetery and the headstones of the animal war heroes underwent a sympathetic restoration. The PDSA Animal Cemetery can be found at Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge, Ilford, Essex, IG4 5PS.

An early photograph.

There are cemeteries in every town village or city around the world. Most of the cemeteries are special places of peace and quiet where our loved ones are laid to rest. Some are very old and overgrown and have an ambiance all of their own. Whilst others are kept tidy and tended carefully. Both kinds have character, one where there is a slow change as nature over time reclaims the ground in a very natural way.  The second where the cemetery is still a part of the local amenities and maintained like our parks and gardens.

Then there is the PDSA Animal Cemetery in Ilford, Essex. In 2006/7 work was  done to complete the restoration of the PDSA cemetery. It should be noted that the cemetery is the final resting place of some 3,000  animals.

Today the PDSA cemetery is a much more mature place.

Ariel view

The Cemetery dates from the 1920s and is tucked away in a quiet spot with a Garden of Remembrance.

The Cemetery garden offers a place of quiet contemplation for animal lovers. It includes a memorial stone bearing the inscription "Love’s final gift – Remembrance".

Maria Dickin CBE Founder of the
Peoples Dispensary for sick Animals.
1870 - 1951
 Maria Elizabeth Dickin (Founder of the Dickin Medal) was born in London in 1870. At the age of 28, Maria married, Arnold Dickin. In need of fulfillment, Maria launched herself into social work. Visiting the poor she was horrified by the dire poverty she witnessed. It was the sight of animals suffering in silence that she found unbearable. In the streets dogs and cats, raw with mange and often dragging broken limbs, scavenged from the gutters.Maria’s sheltered Victorian upbringing simply had not prepared her for what she encountered in the homes of the poor.

In her book, The Cry of the Animal she recalled the scene: 'The suffering and misery of these poor, uncared-for creatures in our overcrowded areas was a revelation to me. I had no idea it existed, and it made me indescribably miserable.'

Bring your sick animals.
Do not let them suffer.
All animals treated.
All treatment free.
Maria Dickin worked to improve the dreadful state of animal health. She wanted to open a clinic where people living in poverty could receive free treatment for their sick and injured animals. Despite the scepticism of the establishment, Maria Dickin opened her free 'dispensary' in November 1917. It was an immediate success and she was soon forced to find larger premises. Within six years this extraordinary woman had designed and equipped her first horse-drawn clinic and soon a fleet of mobile dispensaries was established. PDSA vehicles soon became a comforting and familiar sight throughout the country.

With success came increased attention from critics at the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Ministry of Agriculture. By providing free treatment for animals belonging to the poor, attracting charitable support and by training her own practitioners Maria Dickin was seen as a threat to the establishment.

In 1937 she was forced to defend the PDSA in a letter to the Royal College: 'If you are so concerned about proper treatment of the sick animals of the poor, open your own dispensaries ... Show owners how to care for their animals in sickness and health. Do the same work that we are doing. Instead of spending your energy and time hindering us, spend it dealing with this mass misery.' An agreement was finally made with the veterinary profession allowing PDSA to continue its work.

Today we salute the memory of Maria Dickin CBE and the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals. Maria will be remembered as one of the great figures in the history of animal welfare.

Yip Yap.

XX Poppy

1 comment:

  1. What lovely pictures you found there. We love reading abut the brave pets who helped the war effort.

    Love and licks, Winnie