In Memoriam – Joan Court

demo1By Marian Hussenbux

I offer the following, including some personal memories, as a few snapshots of Joan’s life.

Joan inspired many demonstrations and protests over the years, several of which Khalid and I attended. Particularly memorable as they benefited from interfaith involvement was the march Meditate to Liberate in 2004 in Cambridge, co-organised with the Buddhist Amida Trust and led by the Dharmavidya, Dr. David Brazier, against the plan to open another vivisection laboratory, which never came to fruition; in Oxford, where a new vivisection lab was later established, the touching silent vigil A Witness to Suffering took place in 2006, again in concert with the Amida Trust; at our meeting afterwards in the Quaker Meeting, refreshments were kindly offered by Sikh friends; Joan’s Fast for Felix, also in Oxford, honoured the monkey who represented the thousands of his kind sacrificed in laboratories. Once again, members of the Amida Trust gave active support.

Khalid’s photo shows her leading a protest in Cambridge, with her Christian friend the late James Thompson, the Animal Padre.

Joan was for many years an active committee member of Quaker Concern for Animals, latterly a life member, and QCA supported the Phone Line Joan had set up in Cambridge, a means by which members of the public who had urgent problems with a suffering animal, or simply a request for information, could get her direct attention and help. She was always generous with her time and energy.

Deeply concerned about how war devastates all species, Joan invited Bruce Kent to speak at our 2003 AGM, after which QCA became an affiliate of his Movement for the Abolition of War.

Joan was made a crew member of the Sea Shepherd Marine Conservation Society, in 2005 joining their expedition to Brazil on a monitoring exercise.

In 2008, the RSPCA’s Lord Erskine Award honoured her work for the animals. This award, which is presented “to an individual or organisation not necessarily directly associated with the RSPCA” commemorates animal welfare pioneer Lord Erskine of Restormel, who, in 1809, successfully introduced a Bill to Parliament “to prevent malicious and wanton cruelty to animals”.

Joan said: ‘I was surprised to get this award from the “Establishment”, but happy to have the opportunity to make a short speech in which I focused on the need for the RSPCA and Animal Rights movements to learn about each other’s activities; at present both are astonishingly unaware of the great work done by both and we need each other.’

Joan had a long and productive life and she will be remembered with admiration and affection as a significant figure in the animal rights movement, innovative, indomitable and tenacious.

A legacy of activism for the animals has been left us which many will carry forward, in particular younger people, whom Joan greatly valued and for whom she has been an inspiration.

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