President & Patrons


Richard Ryder -14 e.m.Dr Richard D. Ryder is an ethicist and the President of the RSPCA, where he previously served as an elected Trustee and as Chairman. After reading Experimental Psychology (the Science of Animal Behaviour) at Cambridge University (Pembroke College), and later receiving a PhD in Political and Social Sciences, he worked for years in Oxford as a Clinical Psychologist and then as a political lobbyist at Westminster for IFAW. He has published ten books, including Victims of Science (1975), Animal Rights – A Symposium (1979) and Animal Revolution (1989); coined the terms Speciesism and Painism, served as the Mellon Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Tulane University, and secured large RSPCA funding for the rapid development of Animal Welfare Science internationally, funding the Park Lane memorial, and for purchasing the first Sea Shepherd boat. He was awarded the Richard Martin Award in 2003 and the Peter Singer Prize in Berlin in 2021.

Richard has helped to modernise the RSPCA.  In his 50 years of unpaid work with the Society he has initiated the Inspectors’ plainclothes Special Operations Unit, the Society’s four Science Departments, the Wildlife establishments, the Trustees’ Finance Committee, the reduced size of the Board, the Society’s first written Animal Welfare policies and the setting up and ongoing funding of Eurogroup for Animals in Brussels.  He has also established regular contact with Government Ministers and Officials, maintained the Society’s international work, strengthened its philosophical foundations, tried to revive the Society’s original campaigning role, maintained Ethical (Nolan) standards, kept out infiltrators, formed alliances with other animal protection bodies and has seen the Society’s income increase over a hundred-fold.

Between 1970 and 2010 Richard was involved in some 56 animal welfare legislative reforms in the EU and UK.  He also led his own campaigns against cruel animal experiments, and succeeded, with others, in stopping otter hunting and hare coursing in 1978. He organised meetings with the CEO of the WTO and with the leaders of all the British political parties. He helped to initiate the big successful campaigns e.g. to control vivisection, stop seal imports, outlaw veal crates, stop cosmetics testing on animals and to ban the hunting of animals with hounds (2004). He did TV tours through Scandinavia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Canada and the USA, appearing on TV and radio shows, the Open University, in the first ever Animals Rights Conference (at Cambridge), and in the world’s first TV debate on Animal Rights in 1969.  He also initiated and edited RSPCA Conferences including Animal Welfare and the Environment in Oxford in 1992.  He worked briefly with Peter Singer in Oxford and Australia.

Richard Ryder also co-founded the Liberal Democrats Animal Welfare Group of which he was made President. In this capacity he passed into Party Policy many of the Groups own policies. He was also President of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. With Douglas Lord Houghton he set up four committees of which CRAE and GECCAP were the most effective, producing the new Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, and “putting Animals into politics” i.e. into the Election Manifestos of the British political Parties for the first time. Later he became President of Barbara Gardner’s highly successful Animals Interfaith Alliance (AIA). He is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the Zoological Society and an Advisor to the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law.


Dr Deborah JonesDr Deborah Jones is Theological Adviser to Catholic Concern for Animals and has been past General Secretary.  She holds a doctorate in animal theology and has worked as editor of The Ark, the Catholic Herald and as deputy editor of Priest & People.  She is a writer, a lecturer and has been a diocesan adviser for adult religious education.  She is the author of The School of Compassion: A Roman Catholic Theology of Animals (Gracewing 2009).  She now writes murder mysteries.

PATRONS (in alphabetical order)

REV. CHRISTA BLANKE (German Lutheran)

Christa_Blanke,_2015Rev. Christa Blanke is a German Lutheran theologian and the founder of Animals’ Angels, the German animal protection organisation that follows trucks during long distance transport across Europe and around the world in order to provide them with sustenance and obtain evidence to campaign against live animal transport.  She is an experienced campaigner within the EU and has written poetry and several books, including ‘With the Eyes of Love’ and ‘Let My People Go’.


Rabbi Prof Dan Cohn-SherbokProfessor Dan Cohn-Sherbok is Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales. He was ordained a Reform rabbi at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He was Chaplain of the Colorado House of Representatives, and Honorary Colonel Aide-De-Camp of New Mexico. He received a PhD from Cambridge University, England. Later he received an honorary DD from the Hebrew Union College, New York.

He taught theology at the University of Kent and served as Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society, and was Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales. He has served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Essex; Middlesex University; St Andrews University; Trinity University College;  Charles University, Prague; St Andrews Theological College, Moscow; Vilnius University, Lithuania; York St John University; St Mary’s University, and Honorary Professor at Aberystwyth University.

He has been a Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge; Harris Manchester College, Oxford; a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society; a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts; a Corresponding Fellow of the Academy of Jewish Philosophy; a Life Member of Wolfson College, Cambridge; an Honorary Senior Member of Darwin College, University of Kent; an Associate Member of the SCR, Christ Church, Oxford; a Visiting Fellow of the Centre for Religions for Peace, University of Winchester; Member of the Cartoonists Club of Great Britain; President of the London Society for the Study of Religion, and Member of the Arts and Humanities Peer Review College. He has also served as a Visiting Scholar of Mansfield College, Oxford; the Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, and Sarum College.


Peter-EganPeter Egan is an actor and active animal rights campaigner. As an actor he is best known for his roles in Downton Abbey, Ever Decreasing Circles and many other television dramas.  He is a vegan and animal rights activist, a patron of many animal charities. Further details about his incredible life can be found on Wikipedia here.


Kay Duchess of Hamilton

Kay, Duchess of Hamilton, is also patron of Scotland for Animals and has a long record of campaigning for animal welfare with her late husband Angus, 15th Duke of Hamilton, the premier peer of Scotland.  In particular, they campaigned against pate de fois gras, snaring, cruel abattoirs and bloodsports.  Once, when asked why he had banned pheasant shooting on his estates, the Duke (an ex RAF pilot) replied, “Have you ever been shot at while flying? Well, I have, and I can tell you it’s not much damned fun!”  He was the grandson of Nina, Duchess of Hamilton, who campaigned so effectively before the Second World War for humane slaughter and against vivisection.

JOYCE D’SILVA (Ambassador for Compassion in World Farming)

thumb_joyceJoyce D’Silva has worked for Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) since 1985 and was its Chief Executive from 1991-2005, after which she became its Ambassador.  During this time CIWF was responsible for effecting a considerable amount of legislation, both in the UK and the EU, which improved the lives of billions of farm animals.  She has written the vegan cookery book Healthy Eating for the New Age and co-edited The Meat Crisis: Developing Sustainable Production and Consumption.  She has recently overseen CIWF’s publication of Farmageddon by Philip Lymberry with Isabel Oakshott.


faizan-jalilFaizan Jaleel currently works for the Humane Society International (HSI) is an expert in the field of Community Development and Human Behaviour Change with more than 19 years of experience in leading programs addressing human – animal conflict and animal welfare. Prior to working with HSI, Faizan worked in several international organizations including the Brooke Hospital for Animals India as their Head of Region. He has extensive field experience and brought about the concept of sustainable animal welfare while working on the community engagement aspects in Brooke. 


Satish KumarEditor–in-Chief for Resurgence Magazine for over 40 years, Satish was born in Rajasthan in India and became a wandering Jain monk when he was nine years old. At the age of eighteen he became a campaigner for land reform, working to turn Gandhi’s vision of a renewed India and a peaceful world into reality. He undertook an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage, walking from India to Europe and then America, without any money, delivering packets of ‘peace tea’ to the leaders of the four nuclear powers. In 1973 he settled in England and took on the editorship of Resurgence Magazine and is a director of Schumacher College at Dartington.


Nitin Mehta 2

Nitin Mehta is the founder of The Young Indian Vegetarians and editor of Ahimsa magazine.  He is also a patron of Quaker Concern for Animals.  He is the author of Sunil’s Kenyan Days, Benefits of Vegetarianism to Africa and Future in Our Hands.



Fr Simon Peter Nellist (Pan Orthodox) – is a retired Archpriest of Tanzania. His Mission Centre is based in Kidamali, a small village on the Iringa plateau some 500 kms south west of Dar es Salaam and 40 kms from Iringa. Fr Simon also occasionally serves in Cyprus and is now attached to the Archdiocese in England. He is Treasurer of the Pan Orthodox Concern for Animals charity and was a professional accountant in many countries before entering the priesthood. He was actively involved in his local RSPCA, was their Treasurer for many years and assisted with helping to rehabilitate the cruelty cases that came into the local branch.


Dr Alpesh PatelDr Alpesh Patel received his Phd in Biochemistry from Kings College, London and is the Science Officer for the Dr Hadwen Trust (DHT), where his role involves advancing the development, understanding and uptake of alternative methods of biochemical research.


Matthieu Ricard

Dr Matthieu Ricard is a French Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal.  He is the author of many books, including ‘Happiness: Developing Life’s Most Important Skill’,  ‘Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World’ and ‘A Plea for Animals:  Developing Kindness Towards All’.


Anant ShahAnant Shah is a philanthropist and trustee of several animal charities, including the Brooke and the Animal Helpline in Gujarat, India.  He is a senior director of the Meghraj international banking group which was founded by his father and is largely focused in India and Africa.


Faiths celebrating animals at Golders Green Unitarians 2014

Ajit Singh MBE has devoted nearly fifty years of his life to promoting interfaith understanding, community cohesion, inter-racial harmony and peace at local, national and international levels. In 1988, he was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for his services in the field of community development and racial harmony.  He is an environmentalist and belongs to the Sikh tradition who are totally vegetarians and practice non-violence towards animals. He was a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Commission for Racial Equality (now called the Equalities and Human Rights Commission) Working Party which produced the famous report ‘Planning for a Multi-Racial Britain in the 1980s’. He has been a co-founder and Chair of the Kingston Group for Racial Understanding, the first interfaith group in the UK in the 1970s  (now Kingston Racial Equality Council) and Hounslow Friends of Faith.  He chaired Hounslow Multi-Cultural Centre for seven years and for the last twenty years, he has chaired the Ethnic Minorities Consultative Group of the London Borough of Hounslow. He has been closely involved with the Westminster Interfaith Programme  for over thirty years and is the executive committee member of the World Congress of Faiths which organises a service for animals every year.  He serves on the Peace Commission of the International Association of Religious Freedom.  He has also been the Vice Chair and Deputy Chief Executive of United Religions Initiative UK for ten years. He has also contributed to the World Council of Churches Assemblies and to the Parliament of World Religions.


Charanjit Singh

Charanjit is at present the chair of International Interfaith Centre, Oxford, the Chair of Hounslow Friends of Faith, one of the Vice Presidents of the World Congress of Faiths and a member of the Peace Commission of the International Association of Religious Freedom.  She serves on the editorial board of the famous interfaith magazine ‘Faith Initiative’ and, at her suggestion, an issue was devoted to Faith and Animals.  She has received awards from the India International Foundation for services in the field of administration and governance in the UK and from the Mayor of London as the Sikh Woman of Achievement.  Over the last forty years, Charanjit has lectured in many international conferences including the World Council of Churches and the Parliament of World Religions, participated on radio and television  programmes and contributed to many publications, reference books and encyclopedias including the Encyclopedia of Christianity.  A reputed author of the book ‘Wisdom of Sikhism’ , she also wrote the Sikh statement on Nature,  for the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation which was presented to the Duke of Edinburgh in 1989.  In November 2008, she had the honour of being the Sikh signatory to the Interfaith Climate Manifesto, signed by thirty religious leaders and scholars across the globe at the Cathedral in Uppsala, Sweden.  She has participated in the World Congress of Faith service for animals since its inception as a part of her commitment to being a Sikh vegetarian.  Professionally an educationist, she has served as a lecturer, principal, director of education and as an Ofsted inspector.  She has also served on health boards as a non-executive director.


Mohammad Safa is committed to the concept of non-harming in Islam.  In 1972, he came to England from Bangladesh to study accountancy.  Afterwards he founded the Bhelpoori House Indian Vegetarian Restaurant in Islington (, which he now runs.   


Dr Will Tuttle

Dr Will Tuttle is a former Zen Buddhist monk who holds a Ph.D from U.C., Berkeley and is author of The World Peace Diet and Your Inner Islands. He is a renowned speaker, educator and musician and editor of Circles of Compassion and Buddhism and Veganism. He has been interviewed in films including Cowspiracy and Prayer for Compassion.



Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg is Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue and has taken a leading role in the development of the Masorti Movement for traditional non-fundamentalist Judaism in England. In 2008 he was appointed Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism in the UK.

He is a President of the Council of Christians and Jews and a member of the Council of Imams and Rabbis. He is a co-founder of Eco-Synagogue and deeply engaged in environmental issues. He is closely involved in supporting refugees. Further interests include pastoral work, hospice care, and literature, especially poetry. He teaches and speaks widely, including on Radio 4’s Prayer for the Day.

After reading English at King’s College Cambridge (1976-9), he spent two years teaching and doing social work in Israel and England.  He took a PGCE at Goldsmith’s College, London and then trained for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College London, receiving ordination in 1987, and continued his studies to gain a further rabbinic qualification from his teacher Dr. Aryeh Strikovsky in Israel.

His publications include: ‘The Three Pillars of Judaism: A Search for Faith And Values’ (SCM Press, 1996); ‘The Laws of Life: A Guide to Traditional Jewish Practice at Times of Bereavement’ (Masorti Publications 1997) and ‘The Eternal Journey; Meditations on the Jewish Year’ (Joseph’s Bookstore 2001); The Silence of Dark Water: An Inner Journey (2008); Walking with the Light (2013); My Dear Ones: One family and The Final Solution (2016) and most recently Things my dog has taught me – about being a better human. He has also produced a popular children’s book ‘Shmendrick and the Croc’, beautifully illustrated by Barbara Jackson (Masorti Publications 2010).

Further information on Rabbi Wittenberg can be found on his website here.

The Animal Interfaith Alliance is a registered not-for-profit company number 8958588.  

Copyright Animal Interfaith Alliance 2023    

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