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RSPCA campaigning to honour Coventry's forgotten female animal pioneer

The RSPCA have started a petition to honour animal pioneer Cara Bray with a blue plaque.

The RSPCA Coventry and District Branch are campaigning to honour one of the city's forgotten female heroes, Cara Bray.

RSPCA campaigning to honour Coventry's forgotten female animal pioneer

The charity want to honour her with a blue plaque as she was an animal pioneer who started the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals where she became the first secretary of the Coventry branch.

Cara Bray was born in Nuneaton, and was a great friend to George Eliot who called her a 'radical thinker' on religious and political matters. She was interested in education for the poor and taught in a school set up by her husband - and was even a pianist and painter. Her 1842 portrait of George Eliot is part of the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

The charity, who are celebrating its 150th year anniversary, have been talking to local heritage societies about Cara, with conversations revealing a forgotten drinking trough for animals on Warwick Row in the city centre.

The trough includes a wrongly dated tribute to Cara Bray and her role in launching RSPCA Coventry District. Cara also wrote for the society magazine 'Animal World' which is still being produced today and is available from the animal centre reception on Coundon Wedge Drive.

She was secretary for 21 years until her resignation - which is when the society eventually became the Coventry branch of the RSPCA. After her death, a horse trough with a inscribed memorial was placed in her memory at Queens Road, which has since been moved to Warwick Row.

Marketing and Fundraising Manager at the RSPCA Coventry & District says that without Cara, there wouldn't be the RSPCA Coventry we have today.

"The branches have formed from those radical thinkers and we could have been absorbed into a different region without her influence. Cara and her husband Charles created the legacy we have today which has meant we have a physical centre and a reach across Nuneaton, Rugby, Solihull and Coventry. Without her we might not have been set up with such strong and independent resolutions and be run in a different manner." she said.

She added: "When I first heard about Cara Bray I was surprised that she had been forgotten. Her influence on our branch is clear as well as that of the wider Coventry area. She was ahead of her time, as was George Elliot, in doing things unexpected by women. Cara not only wrote for our Animal World magazine but also textbooks such as Our Duty to Animals in 1871."

To honour a forgotten female animal pioneer in Coventry, an online petition has been created and they are looking to increase support in any of their four stores in Earlsdon, Wyken, Coundon and Allesley Park. To sign the petition, visit the RSPCA website.


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