Animal heroes attending Midlothian conference

Tuesday September 26th 2023

Roslin Institute

The Roslin Institute, in Midlothian.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Real life animal heroes will be attending a two-day international conference to promote the importance of compassion in Midlothian next weekend.

East Lothian based humane education charity Fostering Compassion is holding its first conference at the Roslin Institute, in Midlothian, with hundreds of people expected to take part and speakers travelling from around the world.

And one of the highlights of the weekend events will be the chance to meet animal heroes from rescue services to support and therapy pets at a meet and greet.

The Compassion Always event, which is being held on Saturday October 7th and Sunday October 8th, marks Fostering Compassion’s tenth anniversary and is part of The Dick Vet’s bicentennial celebrations this year.

Among speakers are Mike Arms, presidents of the Helen Woodward Animal Center, from Santa Fe, California, and Zhenya Dove, an activist and volunteer from Ukraine who is based in Edinburgh.

Zhenya has been working with various Ukrainian, Scottish and international charities, including Danish Animal Protection, and is the organiser of the War Through Children’s Eyes photo exhibition and Unbroken cultural event.

As well as covering issues of the importance of compassion in everyday life and humane education, issues such as how to deal with compassion fatigue will be covered.

And attendees will hear from rescue services about the work they carry out and animals in their service.

Fostering Compassion which was set up in 2013 by Tranent woman Lesley Winton BEM, runs workshops at its Ormiston base and in schools to help children and young people tap into their empathy and emotions by talking about the experiences of rescue animals and relating it to how they feel.

The work has proved extremely successful in helping children identified as struggling with behaviour or emotional issues.

Lesley, who was awarded the British Empire Medal for Services to Animal Welfare, said she was excited about the conference and the very special animal hero guests coming along.

She said: “The conference is a big event for us as it marks Fostering Compassion’s 10th year of working with children and animals and bring a lot of our supporters and partners together.

“There will also be a very special Animal Heroes segment where delegates can learn about the work of search and rescue dogs at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks in the USA, and our very own Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will speak about animal rescues they have carried out.

“And they will have the opportunity to meet many other animal heroes providing support, assistance and therapy to humans.”

The Dick Vet is marking 200 years of veterinary teaching this year with a series of live events and as part of its celebrations has provided the charity with the venue for free.

The charity is offering free tickets to all students throughout the conference with ticket prices for other attendees ranging from £10 a day to £15 for the weekend with lunch and refreshments included..

Tickets for the two day conference and full details of the line-up can be found on the Fostering Compassion website at

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