Credit: Luke Dray, The Woodland Trust

Last Saturday, 22nd September, thousands of people gathered in Hyde Park, London and made history by participating in the first People’s Walk for Wildlife.

It didn’t matter if you were young or old, dressed as a fox, butterfly, pig, deer, cow, hen harrier, badger or simply wearing waterproofs, everyone was welcome.

Whoever you were, whatever you wore, nature needed you. Yes, it poured with rain but spirits were high as the crowd of over 10,000 listened intently to a range of speakers and fabulous music. We were there to make a stand for the voiceless. The literally millions of our animals, farmed or wild, birds, fish and insects that are abused, forgotten, hunted or under severe threat of extinction and to support the extraordinary man who had brought us all together – Chris Packham.

It was a truly inspiring day.

A huge gathering of like-minded and passionate people speaking with one voice, determined to be silent no longer and to make the UK government wake up to the unacceptable war on our animals and mother nature.  Following the decline of more than half of British species in recent decades, it was clear it’s a concern for the many, with representation from members of the public across the UK and Europe, from farmers to chefs, from NGO’s to politicians like Caroline Lucas and from well-known enthusiasts such as Bill Oddie, animal advocates like actor Peter Egan and musicians like Billy Bragg. We heard pleas from a range of incredible speakers including George Monbiot and hugely inspiring young wildlife champions like 15 year old Bella Lack, 16 year old Bird Girl and 14 year old Dara McAnulty, all environmental advocates for the next generation and who spoke so eloquently. As ecologist, Jeff Clarke said ‘ In a day of inspirational highs, Bella Lack’s speech was the moment that ripped my heart from my chest and fired it into orbit’

Then we ‘walked’ and the London air was full of birdsong. A wonderful idea by Chris and his team to ask everyone to download birdsong onto their mobiles to play through the streets of London as we walked to Parliament and on to Downing Street. Please listen to this short video and relive the walk and song for yourself.

As the walk came to an end, Chris Packham led the youngest environmentalists to Downing Street to deliver the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife which contained many ideas for change and made a series of recommendations including twinning primary schools with farms to help children understand how their food is produced, making it illegal to dredge scallops and stopping seal culling in Scotland.

All in all, it was a hugely powerful and unforgettable experience;  an inspiring day and whether you were there in person or indeed ‘walking on social’ and ensuring #PeoplesWalkforWildlife was the no: 1 trending hashtag, we most definitely made history.

Hats off to Chris Packham and his brilliant team for masterminding such a powerful demonstration.  I sincerely hope you were listening Mr Gove because everyone single one of us is determined to protect our countryside, animals and our planet for our children.

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