A TRANENT woman who set up and runs three very different charities has been named as a Charity Professional of the Year
Lesley Winton – founder and CEO of the Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears, Fostering Compassion and Holly’s Hugs – received the major accolade at the Ceva Animal Welfare Awards.
It is a remarkable achievement for Lesley, who has single-handedly established three small but pro-active organisations.
She has devoted the past seven years of her life to supporting a variety of animal welfare, child welfare and related causes across the globe.
Bears are one of the most persecuted animals in the world and in 2010, Lesley launched the Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears which works through fundraising and awareness raising to assist new and established projects around the world to help bears.
It is currently supporting 33 different bear project in 17 countries around the world, raising just under £16000 to help them.
This was followed by the launch of Holly’s Hugs, set up in memory of Lesley’s own very special dog, to raise funds to send boxes of treats and toys to shelters for elderly and special needs dogs, street dogs and dogs working in and rescued from warzones.
Then came Fostering Compassion in 2013, a pioneering project that works with vulnerable children, opening them up to the world of animals and nature through fun days out, activities and workshops.
The workshops tell the stories of rescued domestic and wild animals in such a way that the children draw parallels between their circumstances and those of the animals – leading them to see animals as sentient beings who can share similar emotions to them. The children learn that everything is connected and we can all work together to make a better world.
They make up goody boxes of treats and toys for local animal shelters and veterinary clinics where the homeless bring their dogs for treatment. One owner was moved to tears as he had never been able to afford to buy his dog a present.
Lesley said: “When my name was called out at the award ceremony, I was stunned – I thought at first it was like this year’s Oscars and they had got the wrong person.
“I hope my work speaks for itself and I am absolutely thrilled it has been recognised in this way. It means a massive amount to me personally and to the organisations I have founded, as well as to all the organisations we work with in partnership. The award is also as much for all our fabulous supporters and hard working volunteers as it is for me.
“The Winton Bear Foundation, Holly’s Hugs and Fostering Compassion have all been built from the ground up, based on love for animals. Hopefully we can continue to go on from strength to strength.”