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ROSEMARY MARSHALL – August 29th 1941 – March 28th 2019

I first met Rosemary thirty years ago. She was a well-established area contact for Compassion in World Farming. I was the new campaigns assistant.

It was at a gathering of our army of area contacts in London and Rosemary was clearly at the forefront. I had just given one of my first ever presentations on the perils of factory farming. I hadn’t yet worked out that you either speak loudly or use a microphone. I did both. A schoolboy error. It brought out the teacher in Rosemary whose encouraging words were quickly followed by sharp advice: “When using a microphone, there’s no need to shout!

An avid supporter of Compassion since 1988, the defining moment for Rosemary was perhaps when her husband, John, came home distressed at the plight of Jersey calves at Banbury livestock market. The calves seemed dumped at the market like rubbish, without food, water or bedding.

Shortly afterwards, Rosemary attended a conference organised by the RSPCA called, The Status of Animals. It was to be a major awakening.

It was there that Rosemary first came across Compassion in World Farming. She was impressed by our literature, and predicted that she was “going to get very involved with them!”.

And getting very involved with us she did.

From 2003, Rosemary became a hugely valued member of our Board of trustees. Her passion and dedication made her an ideal Vice-chair, a role she fulfilled for several years until her passing.

She had a focused determination, a wealth of experience and a balanced approach.

However, if there is one word that described her perfectly, it was wise. It was that wisdom which made Rosemary such a great trustee.

And with it, Rosemary was always selfless, straightforward, straight thinking, beautifully eloquent, yet straight talking. Always generous with her ideas and thoughtful advice. It was what made her so wonderful as trustee, as ambassador, as a person. As a friend.

Her passion for the protection of animals, both captive and wild, saw her take up other trusteeships too: with Protection Mondiale des Animaux de Ferme (PMAF) in France, the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA) and BBOWT: the Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust.

Rosemary had such a great love for animals and the natural world. It was that love which led her to become such a strong beacon of light for that better day for all the sentient creatures who share this Earth.

Whether pounding the streets with a collecting tin or making her views known across the Boardroom table, Rosemary was a quietly formidable character.

It was her slightly forceful encouragement that got me over the line in applying for the role of CEO at Compassion. I wasn’t looking for another job at the time and was tied-up with a million and one other things, not least being away on an intense tour of duty in Korea. However, apply I did. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

As well as her compassion, Rosemary also had an intense curiosity, a fascination with the natural world. She was a skilled birdwatcher and naturalist as well as being president of Chichester Natural History Society.

During my days as a wildlife tour leader, I had the great pleasure of Rosemary’s company on a number of excursions: to Norfolk, to the Dutch island of Texel and to the Spanish province of Andalucía. Rosemary was always keen. Always up for an early morning birdwalk before breakfast. Never missing out.

I will forever treasure those last moments spent with Rosemary in her Chichester home, where we spoke about birds, about news from the Natural History Society, about Compassion.

We spoke about her struggle to get well again; and how it was so much harder than she had expected. We talked about how we were both similarly afflicted with a heavy dose of impatience. We both wanted to change the world by tea-time, and then some. How, sometimes life just needs us to let go of our outward ambitions for a moment and focus on other things, like getting well.

Like so many of us here, I encouraged Rosemary to focus on doing just that: getting well. “All those other things can wait,” I remember saying. “In the meantime, I’ll look after Compassion. I promise you that. I’ll keep it in fine fettle until you are well.

We talked about my upcoming trips to Rome and Nairobi.

‘When I’m back from my next batch of travels, I’ll come and see you. Perhaps by then, we can plan a trip out somewhere to see some birds together.’

The next day, Rosemary sent an email, which read: “All the help and generosity I am receiving makes me hope that the sunny uplands (full of birds) are not too difficult to reach.  I will do my best.

Tragically, in this world, it was not to be.

However, like all of us, dear Rosemary, I hope the skies for you are filled with joyous song, with many beautiful birds in that most highest of sunny uplands where you are now.

I know I speak for all of us at Compassion; the chair of the Board, Valerie James, and all her fellow trustees, everyone on the staff team and all who had the pleasure of knowing you Rosemary; in sending much love and sincere thanks, dear Rosemary, for your wisdom, sincerity and compassion. Always.

Grateful thanks to Rosemary’s family in asking for donations to be sent in her name to support the work of Compassion in World Farming.

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