14. I've learned that you donate money from the sales of all Yak (and related) albums to: Tower Hill Stables Animal Sanctuary! Please tell us why and feel free to inform us of the THSAS institution/organisation.
Well this is a charity run by Fiona Oakes and it is quite different from similar animal sanctuaries for a number of significant reasons
Firstly – it is not run as a business – in other words Fiona is not doing this for a living. Nothing donated to the sanctuary goes on anything other than food for the rescued animals. So, all the running costs are met privately. The feed costs are £5300 a month. Vets and maintenance are extra.
Secondly there are no staff or volunteers – Fiona does all the work herself with my help at weekends. Given there are over 400 rescues that's a tall order.
Thirdly, the rescued animals are a mixture of domestic and ex-farm. With one man/woman band operations you tend to find that the focus is either one or the other – as farm animals live outside and domestic live inside. This is because you need to be outside to see to the farm animals and inside to see to the domestic animals such as dogs. Fiona has to do both – 36 horses, 50 Pigs, 5 Cows, 36 Sheep etc outside and in her house 35 elderly dogs so when she finishes the outside work she has to start on the inside work + the housework of course is essential to maintain hygienic standards. The dogs live in the house as they were all previously unwanted, on death row at dog pounds etc and mostly old and Fiona gives them a house environment for the winters of their lives. Kennels are no home for dogs in these circumstances.
Forthly, Fiona is an International Standard Marathon runner – a 2 hour 38 runner – that puts her in the top 10 females in the UK – to maintain this standard she runs 80-100 miles a week – imagine that on top of all the animal work ! She was the Essex Country Champion in 2007 and still holds the course record by over 11 minutes. She has come top 20 in London, and top 10 in Amsterdam, Florence and Berlin
Fifthly – Fiona used to ride a bike before she took up running – she represented the GB at the Barcelona Olympics in '92 – everything she does she does to the max
Sixthly – Fiona has a knee replacement – since the age of 17 – they said she would never walk...
Sevently – Fiona has been Vegan for 20 years – proving that this cruelty free diet is not prohibitive to performance in top level sport!
Eightly – Fiona is a Patron for another charity CAPS (Captive Animal Protection Society) and a spokesperson for IDA (In defence of Animals, the US organisation)
Ninthly – Fiona is a founder member of VITA the only animal rights organisation in Russia
and Tenthly – if you want to know more just google Fiona Oakes !
15. I think it is a very worthy cause and clearly shows that YAK (you) has a big heart (which also IMHO shines through in your great music). Do you feel that, these thing are connected? In other words...does a big heart/concern for animals and the environment etc. "mirror" in peoples creative output? In your case, composition and music performance/delivery??
Thanks again Tonny, glad you appreciate the cause and the efforts we put into both the sanctuary and the music ! I think it is down to the individual's ability to apply themselves – take Fiona as an example – she does whatever she turns her hand to to the max – she takes up cycling as a kid – gets to the Olympics in '92. She takes up running a few years ago – she becomes the Essex county Marathon champion a few years later & has plenty of top 10 international marathon finishes under her belt. All that & the poor girl has a knee replacement too. For my part, I try & do as much as I can & I try & lead a cruelty free lifestyle for the sake of the planet, the animals ...& my own sanity & well being. It maybe that these things do indeed feed into the creative process & ultimately the music & I guess if the music is appreciated and enjoyed then that's great, particularly if it leads people to become interested in the work we do at the Sanctuary and our lifestyle approach.