NEWC Tribute to Director, Kirsty Withnall

The NEWC (National Equine Welfare Council) Board and Membership would like to express their deepest condolences on the very sad passing of NEWC Director and RSPCA Inspector Kirsty Withnall.

Kirsty served on the NEWC Board for four years and through her work at the RSPCA over more than 20 years she has been instrumental in bringing justice in some very high profile and significant animal welfare cases.

Kirsty (then Kirsty Hampton) was the lead inspector in one of the biggest horse rescue cases of all time, which took place at Spindle Farm, Amersham in 2008. It was at the time the longest-running animal welfare case in history and involved more than 100 horses and donkeys. It was an incredible example of multiagency working, but it was in a large part thanks to Kirsty’s diligence and commitment that the case was seen through to the end.

As part of her work in the RSPCA Special Operations team, she has also been involved in several high-profile puppy farm cases and was even named in a novel by Peter James last year based on his research around this horrifying trade.

Earlier this year Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal presented Kirsty with the Colin Spedding Award at the National Equine Forum for her tireless services to equine and animal welfare.

NEWC Vice Chair Ruth Court said: ‘Kirsty really was an incredible hero for animal welfare, fighting to see justice done on so many occasions. But even more than her outstanding achievements, which really were extraordinary, we were proud to call her our colleague and our friend. I first met Kirsty as a degree student back when I started lecturing at Moulton College. She was the most wonderful, kind and warm person and a joy to teach and to work alongside. We are all so devasted by this desperately sad news and send our deepest love and best wishes to her family and friends.’

Mark Kennedy, fellow NEWC Director and RSPCA Scientific and Policy Manager said: ‘Kirsty was a true inspiration and hero to me long before I joined the RSPCA, right back when I first heard about the dreadful situation she faced in Amersham. What I experienced of her as a colleague reinforced this in spades. She was a dedicated Inspector who worked tirelessly for all animals, but she especially loved horses, they brought her such happiness, and she was still riding even just a few weeks ago. She was also continuing to fundraise for Cancer Research and checking up on how her latest cases were progressing with the RSPCA because that is just the kind of incredible person that she was. She will be desperately missed.’

Kirsty passed away on Sunday 21st April after a long illness. She is survived by her husband and two children.

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