British equestrians step up for Ukraine with new appeal

  • Equestrian organisations have come together to launch the British Equestrians for Ukraine appeal, to aid the developing equine crisis in the country.

    The appeal has been set up by British Equestrian (BEF), World Horse Welfare, the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) and the British Horse Society, with the support of member bodies across the industry, to help facilitate a supply chain to meet the immediate need for goods on the ground in Ukraine. Money will also be raised to help buy supplies and cover the costs associated with transport.

    “This is a dire situation, and alongside the immediate humanitarian crisis, we must do everything we can to prevent the unnecessary suffering of all equines and help those who care for them,” said BEF chief executive Jim Eyre.

    “We’re fortunate that our equestrian community is blessed with so many willing to help those in need. However, it’s apparent that careful coordination is required to make sure urgent goods get to those in need through the correct channels. We hope that we can help facilitate that while urgently raising funds for the emergency requirements and beyond. I’d like to thank all those involved in getting the fund and export effort launched, particularly Alec Lochore, Alice Fox-Pitt, Roly Owers, James Hick and Claire Williams.”

    Financial contributions can be made to the appeal via the British Equestrians for Ukraine fund on the World Horse Welfare website. Donations will allow the group to work with trusted local partners including the Ukraine and Polish federations and recognised charities to provide emergency support. UK taxpayers can sign up to Gift Aid, which means the fund will receive an extra 25p from every £1 donated, at no extra cost.

    World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is “utterly heartbreaking”, adding there has been “such a desire” from across Britain to help Ukraine’s horses and those who own or care for them.

    “This fund aims to do just that and, along with the BHS, we have donated to the appeal, and would encourage others to do the same,” he said.

    “Without doubt there will be huge challenges to effectively target funds where they are most needed, so we will strive to work through a network of trusted local partners in what is clearly such an unsettled and rapidly evolving situation.”

    A spokesman for the group for the appeal said it is also working with leading equestrian brands and BETA members to coordinate offers of the urgently required goods and then matching them with planned haulage trips to the Polish logistics hub established by the Ukrainian and Polish equestrian federations.

    “This way we can ensure lorries are leaving British shores full, with the right supplies and correct exportation documentation to expedite the goods getting into Poland and on to Ukraine,” he said.

    BETA executive director Claire Williams said what had been achieved in such a short time showed what can be done by working together.

    “Shipments of hay and bedding are already on their way, but the logistics due to Brexit are challenging,” she said. “Feed companies with distributors and stock on the continent are stepping up to assist while others who are experienced exporters are committing supplies to be sent over either through shared loads or direct with their usual hauliers. Other companies who are not in a position to send products have also pledged cash donations to the new fund.”

    Financial donations can be made at:

    Equine: British Equestrians for Ukraine Fund

    Humanitarian: Disasters Emergency Committee

    Companies can donate small packaged haylage/forage, hard feed, and shavings in packs weighing less than 20kg and should contact info@beta-uk.org, which can help with the logistics. Any product supplied needs to be accompanied by export documentation and should not require export health certificates.

    In the veterinary world, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) said the organisation is “determined” to offer as much help and support as it can to Ukrainian veterinary colleagues who are fleeing the criss and seeking refuge in the UK.

    “Our financial support scheme for refugees that we launched in 2020 and expanded last October is therefore immediately available for Ukrainian veterinary surgeons with refugee status, but holding non-recognised qualifications, who are looking for the chance to rebuild their lives and professional careers in the UK,” said an RCVS spokesman.

    The scheme enables UK-based vets with refused status to take the RCVS statutory examination for membership for free, provides financial support for travel and accommodation to help them attend exams and free access to RCVS library resources, and provides free membership to associations including the British Equine Veterinary Association.

    The RCVS has also made enquiries with the Ukrainian Institute and Federation of Veterinarians of Europe as to whether coordinated efforts are being planned to provide veterinary support for animals that are being brought across the Ukrainian border into neighbouring EU countries, and will publish further details if and when these become available.

    Equestrian retailer Foster Equestrian Ltd has announced it will donate all proceeds from purchases of Flex-On composite magnetic inserts. 50% will go to the Red Cross, and 50% to the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation.

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