Last week saw Wild at Heart Foundation launch our first ever fundraising event, ‘One Night Only’. In the heart of London the team spent the day setting up a gallery, donated to us for the night by the fabulous Josh Lilley, for the display of over 60 incredible pieces of art. After a full day spent hammering nails, aligning frames, opening bottles of wine, folding sweatshirts, hanging artwork and arranging flowers we had ensured the space was well and truly ready for our guests. A bit of elbow grease from everyone on the team proved to be very effective and by the time we had finished the gallery looked lovely, showcasing the work of extremely talented artists.
Each and every piece of artwork was very generously donated to the foundation in light of the event. Beautiful paintings, prints and photographs lined the walls of the gallery and each and every penny from the sale of each piece will go straight to facilitating our future work, allowing us to continue to combat the homeless canine population across the world. At present we are focusing on eradicating the stray dog problem on the island of Lesvos, Greece.
We had an amazing turnout, with over 250 guests bursting into the gallery to check out the art, support the foundation and enjoy a glass of wine or three. The number of available pieces quickly began to diminish and the little red heart stickers our event director, Pascale, was distributing to sold pieces quickly began to decorate the walls. We had over 30 spectacular artists donate their work to the event including the likes of Tom Lovell, Martin Usbourne, Andrea Byrne and Charlotte Gerrard. Photographers Aidan O’Neill and Liam Duke, of whom have previously helped the foundation by donating their skills, also donated stunning images, as well as our cherished friends over in Lesvos, Claire Lloyd and Matthew Usmar. The gallery was brimming with talent.
A huge thank you goes to the wonderful Simeon Farrar for not only donating a dozen paintings, but for also designing our brand new Wild at Heart Foundation sweatshirts, which sold out in just 3 hours! They were very well received. I know the team have since lived in ours and we have seen lots of supporters posting selfies in their new garms, we love you all! If you would like to pre-order a limited edition sweatshirt please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, we didn’t just invite two legged guests. We saw a fair few familiar canine faces come in to say hello too, although I think they were more interested in the possibility of somebody dropping a canape. Among them were Mouse and Martin (formerly Benny and Pippin), who I’d already met for the first time back in Cyprus when they were without homes. I can honestly say they were changed dogs. Glossy coats, oodles of confidence, bright eyes and on their best behaviour – we felt proud to call them Wild at Heart Foundation dogs! Every single adopter we spoke to told us about how their new family member had completely changed their lives and how they couldn’t imagine being without them. These dogs were unwanted, forgotten and abandoned in their countries of origin, but now flourishing in their new homes they’re providing their families with love, humour, loyalty and companionship. What I love about rescue dogs is their ability to rescue people, even when people don’t realise they need rescuing.
The evening was a great success. Some beautiful pieces were sold on the night, with the funds raised allowing us to continue our mission. Throughout the event we realised that we were surrounded by generous, supportive and compassionate friends, and you are the reason that we can continue to reduce the world’s 600 million stray dog population. We are humbled by your magnanimity. It’s not only donations and the purchasing of items that creates the Wild at Heart Foundation support network, but also the people who can’t adopt but tell their neighbours who are looking to home a dog. It’s also the people who are not in the position to donate but religiously share our social media posts. It’s also the people who greet other dog walkers in the park and share the story of where their rescue dog came from. You all play a huge role in making this organisation what it is. We cannot thank you enough.
So, what’s next? Well as I mentioned before, our next goal is to begin to significantly reduce the stray dog population on the island of Lesvos. Working with one of our Greek partners, we will use this project as a ‘model’ for future neutering campaigns in other parts of the world. Our goal is to make Lesvos ‘stray dog free’! Our project will start with a programme to audit the number of stray dogs on the island and then zone the island into sections and begin to systematically ‘trap, neuter and release’ until all stray dogs are neutered. There will be plenty more news on this exciting and progressive approach to humanely managing strays coming soon…