AN ANIMAL lover who ran Ferne Animal Sanctuary for seven years has been presented with a prestigious RSPCA award.

John Bryant, the sanctuary’s manager between 1976 and 1983, received the Queen Victoria Gold Medal at the RSPCA Honours ceremony.

It is the RSPCA’s highest meritorious award, presented to members of the charity in recognition of particularly long or praiseworthy service to safeguarding animal welfare.

Mr Bryant served on the RSPCA Council for nine years and has also held positions in the League Against Cruel Sports, Animal Action and the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted animals.

He has worked on many important animal protection bills that later became laws, such as the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Hunting Act 2004.

Mr Bryant said: “The RSPCA is under severe attack from the bloodsports lobby who, like all abusers of animals, fear their nasty practices being exposed by the nation’s most respected and influential animal welfare champion.

“For me, winning this award means that the RSPCA recognises that these forms of cruelty – blood sports and inhumane pest control – inflicted on scores of millions of animals and birds annually in Britain are legitimate targets for reforms.”

Among many notable achievements in his career, Mr Bryant has also written several books on his experiences, including|Animal Sanctuary, based|on the animals and people|he encountered while at Ferne.