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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Alan Knight, head of IAR, is awarded an OBE

Alan Knight and rescued bearWe are delighted to announce that Alan Knight, CEO of International Animal Rescue, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in recognition of his services to animal welfare.

Alan has had a lifelong love of animals and gave up running the family optical components company in Hastings to take up the reins at International Animal Rescue in Uckfield some five years ago. He is a staunch vegetarian, and passionately outspoken in support of all animals.

On hearing the news Alan said: "I'm thrilled to receive this award, not only because it is a tremendous personal honour, but more importantly because it reflects the importance attached to animals and animal welfare in this country. It is a clear indication of the nation’s great affection for animals and wildlife that I have received such recognition.

"I accept it not only for myself but as a tribute to the teams of people who work with me on many projects to save animals around the world - and on behalf of the animals we are all trying to protect. One individual can inspire and motivate others, but it is only by joining forces and working as a team that we can be truly effective in the field of animal rescue. It is only by working closely in partnership with Indian charity Wildlife SOS that we have been able to rescue more than 200 dancing bears off the streets of India and give them a safe and happy life in one of our sanctuaries.

"I hope this honour will lead to greater public awareness of the suffering of animals worldwide and enable their voice to be heard more clearly. It recognises the importance, not only of conserving entire species, but also of rescuing and relieving the suffering of individual animals. Whether they are dancing bears on the streets of India, stranded marine mammals around the UK coastline, or unwanted cats and dogs left to fend for themselves on the streets, I believe that all are equally deserving of our protection.

An OBE should give me a better platform for raising animal welfare issues and speaking out against animal abuse. I make no apology that I intend to make use of this award at every opportunity to further the cause of animal welfare, and to encourage people to be generous in their support of the charities that I represent: International Animal Rescue, which has rescued more than 200 dancing bears off the streets of India in the past three years in partnership with Indian charity Wildlife SOS, and British Divers Marine Life Rescue, a body of volunteers saving whales, dolphins, seals and other marine wildlife in distress around the UK shores. IAR and BDMLR have proved that huge amounts can be achieved with passion, determination and dedication - and the support of the animal-loving UK public."