On the occasion of a recent visit to Petersfield, Hampshire, I made a point of taking a look at Lyndum House in the High Street.
In 1976 when I first began to work for organisations campaigning for animals, my first days (well, two years) were spent at Lyndum House with Compassion In World Farming.
At this time, Compassion was a very small organisation renting a couple of rooms upstairs in the back of an old building, Lyndum House, in Petersfield’s Hight Street. Working there were Elaine, Compassion’s first and then only full-time employee, and Thelma and Pauline, part-time researcher and secretary respectively. Peter, who donated his time and expertise to Compassion, had also started a company called Direct Foods, whose claim to fame was Sosmix.
My interview with Peter was the first time I was forced to think about what compassion meant.
“Do you have a problem with the word ‘compassion’?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” I replied. “Why?”
“Well,” I recall him saying, “some men are embarrassed by the word.”
“Not me,” I reassured him.
My answer was motivated more by wanting the job than understanding what compassion means. I cannot say that I understood what it meant then but it is a word that I have subsequently grown to respect, becoming one of my four key values.
Peter hired me and my professional career in the animal rights movement began unbeknownst to me. I soon realised from working at Compassion that this is what I wanted to do with my life: stop animal exploitation and secure animal rights.